A HIGHLIGHT of this year’s Winchester Cathedral Carol Concert at 7pm on Friday will be the première of Queen Elizabeth’s Winchester Carol, composed by Roderick Williams and commissioned by the Friends of the Cathedral in honour of HM Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday.

Bruce Parker, chairman of the Friends, said: “Her Majesty, our patron, has made available the funds for this very special carol and, at her request, we will be sending her a recording of it.”

Entitled Star Shine: an Night with the Stars all are welcome to “an evening of music, laughter and delight” at the cathedral as the choir, boys, girls and lay clerks sing music for Christmas.

In this year’s concert the choir is supported by opera stars Paulo Ferreira and Clare Rutter singing a well-loved repertoire both classical and contemporary.

Dirk Maggs, producer and director of Radio 4’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, will speak on the comedy of Christmas, and the evening will be hosted by BBC South Today’s, Sally Taylor.

Throughout the concert, readings and reflections following contemporary Christmas themes will be interspersed with performances of traditional and light-hearted carols sung by the cathedral choir.

The dean of Winchester, the Very Rev Catherine Ogle, said: “The Cathedral Carol Concert offers a panoply of stars to delight and to entertain us with the joyful spirit of Christmas.

“This year we anticipate with pleasure the very first performance of Queen Elizabeth’s Winchester Carol.”

The concert traditionally raises funds to support the education of the Boy Choristers at The Pilgrims’ School, recognised on one of the medals which many of the boys wear during services.

Booking is advised. Tickets £20 to £40 are available from the cathedral box office on 01962 857275 and online at www.tickets.winchester-cathedral.org.uk.