AFTER a year’s delay, Prima Vocal Ensemble artistic director Ewa Salecka is thrilled to be holding the York choir’s tenth anniversary concert at last.
“It’s just a few weeks since restrictions lifted and our 18-month perseverance against the odds has paid off,” says a relieved Ewa. “We’re now very excited to announce Misatango, a signature Prima evening of eclectic and surprising material with professional guest artists on September 11 at a socially distanced Temple Hall, York St John University.
“Our celebration event will feature the fabulous Misa a Buenos Aires, Misatango, an exhilarating fusion of Tango and Latin Mass by the Argentinian Martín Palmeri, performed by the award-winning Prima choir, Mowbray Orchestra string quintet, London-based bandoneon virtuoso Julian Rowlands, pianist Greg Birch and mezzo-soprano soloist Lucy Jubb.”
The “wonderfully diverse” programme will embrace familiar traditional music from the British Isles, Ireland and North America, taking in a cappella pieces by Tallis and Antognini and trad songs, such as Shenandoah, Scarborough Fair and Parting Glass, before travelling across the Equator to embrace the distinctive patterns and harmonies of Buenos Aires in Palmeri’s work.
“This is probably the first choral performance in York since lockdown ended, and it’s a truly outstanding orchestral and choral work to mark this event,” says Ewa. “Rest assured, Palmeri’s work is becoming extremely popular for a very good reason: it’s a stand-out and stand-alone composition, a Latin Mass that brings a smile to the face and gets everyone’s toes tapping.”
Prima was founded by Polish-born performer, producer and music director Ewa Salecka and pianist Greg Birch in 2010. “Since then, we’ve collaborated with top composers and singers, put on spectacular shows in and around York and in prestigious locations from London to New York,” says Ewa (pronounced ‘ever’).
“We’ve performed in choral festivals and competitions throughout Europe, from the summit of the Italian Tyrol to 100 metres underground in Poland’s Wieliczka Salt Mines!”
The lockdowns of the past 18 months have challenged Ewa and the choir, but nevertheless she has worked tirelessly to keep members practising, first through Zoom meetings, then with outdoor and indoor in-person rehearsals.
“These have all been in Simulcast form, allowing both attendees and remote-access singers to practise together,” she says.
In a display of continued international collaboration despite the pandemic, Ewa even gained a bronze award for the choir during lockdown by submitting a virtual entry of the choir singing in a choral competition in Szczecin, Poland.
To mark both the tenth anniversary and the return to live performance, she has chosen an inspiring, uplifting repertoire, encapsulated by Palmeri’s Misatango, first performed by Prima in York in 2017 in its North of England premiere.
“The choir then had the privilege to meet and perform with the composer himself at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 2019 for the world premiere of his subsequent work Gran Misa,” says Ewa.
“Palmeri remains a firm friend, sending the choir a personal, inspiring message in the midst of the first lockdown.”
Suffused with a daring mix of sacred music and tango to plunge you into a world of intense emotions, passion and syncopated rhythms, Misatango is “perhaps just what’s needed at the moment,” reckons Ewa.
Prima Vocal Ensemble presents Misatango: Prima’s Tenth Anniversary Celebration, Temple Hall, York St John University, Lord Mayor’s Walk, York, Saturday, September 11, 7.30pm to 9pm. Box office: primavocalensemble.com.
For the full programme and socially distanced tickets, available in advance only, head to: primachoralartists.com/events/misatango-by-m-palmeri-primas-10th anniversary-concert