PRODUCER and conductor Ewa Salecka will lead York choir Prima Vocal Ensemble in Song Of The Universal, their November 6 concert of Ola Gjeilo music at Riley Smith Hall, Tadcaster.
The York choir will be joined by The Mowbray Orchestra and pianist Greg Birch in a one-off performance of inspiring, enchanting orchestral and choral contemporary works by the Norwegian composer.
“With cocktail-style seating and bar facilities available throughout the Riley Smith Hall, this gem of a venue – just a short drive from York – promises a musical evening to appeal to every taste,” says Ewa (pronounced ‘Eh-va’).
Gjeilo’s distinctive sound is marked by sweeping melodious lines in waves of rich harmony, heavily influenced by cinematic-style orchestration. His work has been a constant highlight of Prima’s repertoire and a personal favourite of Ewa for many years.
“His music has the broadest appeal, being accessible to everyone” she explains. “There’s something for all listeners, from classical connoisseurs to those who simply love an instantly enjoyable stirring melody.
“Additionally, the works are raised to new levels by the use of poetry and lyrics of the highest artistic standard.”
Prima have enjoyed collaborations with the polished musicians of The Mowbray Orchestra for many years. “They are outstanding professionals,” she says. “It’s always a thrill to work with instrumentalists of this standard.”
Her praise for the Prima singers shows no limits too: “I’m eternally proud of the achievements of this non-auditioning group. For more than 12 years now, we’ve been one of the most versatile community choirs in the area,” says Ewa.
“I love to create performance opportunities for people and I’m always looking for original material that will both appeal to and broaden the musical palette of the choir. In return, they always reward me with a passion and dedication that is genuinely humbling.”
The 7.30pm programme will include the British premiere of two Gjeilo works: first, the Dreamweaver suite, based on a Norwegian folk poem, recounts the dreams of its main character through the poetic verse of lyricist Charles Anthony Silvestri.
Then, in Song Of The Universal, Gjeilo has created another signature uplifting sound, one that enhances the faith and belief in humanity expressed eloquently through the lyrics of American poet Walt Whitman.
To conclude the evening, Ewa will conduct Prima and the Mowbray string musicians in Gjeilo’s celebrated Sunrise Mass, originally intended to be performed before the pandemic. “In this featured work, movements of the Latin Mass are uniquely set to original English titles, reflecting the composer’s wish to express a very human emotional journey,” she says.
“Sunrise Mass memorably concludes this metaphor with Gjeilo’s masterpiece, The Ground, here in its original orchestral and choral glory.”
Extending a welcome to all in the Riley-Smith Hall’s relaxed, informal ambience, Ewa says: “Come and join us for what promises to be a unique, intimate and emotionally charged evening of the very best in contemporary choral music.”
Prompt booking is recommended at primavocalensemble.com/event-details/song-of-the-universal-concert-of-music-by-ola-gjeilo-1.