Let the Peoples Sing



Antony Hopkins (1957)

John Hobday (1958-59, 61-65)

Leslie Regan (1960)

Alvar Lidell (1966)

Martin Muncaster (1967-72)

David Willcocks (1973-4)

Bernard Keeffe (1975-82)

Paul Guinery (2001-3)

Aled Jones (2007-13)

Sara Mohr-Pietsch (2015-)


Douglas Smith (1972)


BBC Light Programme, 15 January to 23 April 1957 (15 episodes in 1 series, as Let the People Sing)

BBC Home Service, 31 January 1958 to 27 May 1964 (110 episodes in 7 series, as Let the People Sing)

BBC Network Three, 27 February 1965 to 5 September 1982 (as annual series: approx 402 episodes in 17 series)

BBC Radio 3, 1983 to present (annual and biennial specials)


An ambitious contest between amateur choirs. A massive technical undertaking in the early 1960s, but almost forgotten now.

Every sort of choir was allowed to enter. Childrens, male voices, female voices, mixed, large and small. Many subcategories all converged to one gala final. And the final was a massive Event - they booked the Royal Albert Hall in the first year, the Royal Festival Hall in subsequent years. It was BBC Radio's biggest night of the year.

By 1960, the final was a miracle of sound broadcasting, linking the BBC's studios together - a choir in Birmingham might go against one in Leeds, and both would be judged by experts in London.

Choir singing became less popular when rock 'n' roll arrived. Regional heats had prefaced the national series from 1959; in 1963, there was only a regional competition, no national finals.

Peoples of Europe

But the miracle of sound broadcasting was something the European Broadcasting Union could use. The contest shifted to Radio 3, gained new categories, and became an international contest. It also added an "S" to the name, turning into Let the Peoples Sing.

By 1967, it was a very international competition, featuring 25 countries from both sides of the Iron Curtain. Israel, Latvia, Kenya, Japan? This was more international than the Eurovision Song Contest of the time, or of any time.

After 1982, the BBC stopped broadcasting the national selection and international heats, and just aired the final. By 1993, the "Euroradio Choral Competition" had moved to a two-year schedule, in the autumn of odd-numbered years. From 2001, Radio 3's broadcast moved away from the main evening concert, towards Radio 3's specific choral programmes Choirworks and The Choir. It's allowed them to air performances by all the national finalists, though there's no finals programme per se.

These days, "Let the Peoples Sing" is open to submissions from EBU broadcasters within and outside Europe, and direct entries from choirs elsewhere in the world. The 2015 contest featured finalists from Sweden, Latvia, Romania, the USA, and England.

A separate television contest, Eurovision Choir of the Year, was inaugrated in 2017.

Web links

EBU programme page

See also

Eurovision Choir of the Year


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