PRIMA Vocal Ensemble will perform an intimate evening of choral diversity, Songs From The Heart, at the National Centre for Early Music, York, on September 30.
Artistic director and producer Ewa Salecka will lead the York choir in a 7.30pm programme of contemporary classical and popular choral music with Greg Birch at the piano.
“Leaving no stone unturned in terms of performance venues, we have brought musical excellence to theatres, churches, cathedrals and arts venues in this country, across Europe and the United States of America as we celebrate our 14th successful year,” says Ewa.
“In recent years, we have expanded our immediate locale to include venues in Tadcaster and Selby, so we are overjoyed to stage our second major event of the year ‘at home’ in York. Accustomed as we are to gracing the big stages, there is a special significance to this aptly titled event. Songs From The Heart will be exactly that.
“Based in the medieval, Grade I listed, converted church of St Margaret’s, in Walmgate, the NCEM is an international exemplar of the very best creative and artistic output. This is the ideal opportunity to experience the choir ‘up close and personal’ with a carefully designed programme.”
Ewa’s music selection itself keeps her choral output “beyond definition”, she says, having championed contemporary composers while discovering arrangements that breathe new life into popular, jazz and soul classics.
“As such, Prima remains a choir that cannot be classified. A cappella pieces can sit comfortably alongside sweeping choral and orchestral performances; accompaniment may stretch from piano to full gospel band, and full-size string orchestras have been a common feature of our concerts over the years,” says Ewa.
“I like to keep my ears finely tuned to the modern choral world. There is so much creativity aimed at choirs today, and I like to be just ahead of the next popular wave, regardless of genre. It delights me when I hear contemporary compositions Prima have performed for years suddenly gaining regular attention on the mainstream media. It’s reassuring to have your instincts proved correct!”
For Songs From The Heart, Ewa has chosen heartfelt music to showcase this richness. Contemporary composers Randall Thompson, René Clausen and Stephen Paulus are paired with celebrated female composers such as Elizabeth Alexander.
“Captivating and often unexpected pieces from recent decades are perfectly balanced by a second half performance that takes familiar artists to the next level with moving and energetic arrangements of songs from George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Freddie Mercury to current musical songs from the stage and big screen,” says Ewa.
Ahead of their 2024 New York City reunion, no Prima event would be complete without the uplifting music of Christopher Tin, the double Grammy-winning composer of Baba Yetu and Sogno di Volare.
“With two amazing concerts still to come this year, the number one emotion I feel for Prima is overwhelmingly clear,” says Ewa. “Pride! I’m so proud of how this choir keeps giving, its dedication to the music and desire forthe very best performance. This is what drives us all and what appeals to new members.
“We always welcome new voices, and with so much in the pipeline for the next 12 months, it’s the ideal time to join. Yes, we perform high-standard arrangements, but there are no auditions to join, so if you like a rewarding challenge, love meaningful music, want to sing in harmony, improve your voice, your mental and physical health and make new friends, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you, and new enquiries from tenors and basses will always be prioritised.”
Tickets can be booked directly from www.primavocalensemble.com/event-details/songs-from-the-heart-prima-vocal-ensemble. “With limited seating in the NCEM, early booking is recommended,” says Ewa.