Prima Vocal Ensemble to perform Luminous Night of Scandinavian and American music at NCEM on May 19

Ewa Salecka: Prima Vocal Ensemble’s artistic director, producer, conductor and percussionist

YORK contemporary choir Prima Vocal Ensemble presents Luminous Night at the National Centre for Early Music, York, on May 19.

Over the past few years, artistic director and producer Ewa Salecka has been the creative mind behind a series of intimate choral and instrumental concerts with the choir and an array of guest musicians.

Now comes a 7.30pm programme of modern choral music for voices, strings, piano and percussion under Salecka’s baton at the NCEM, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate.

The evening features pieces with a Scandinavian and American theme accompanied by professional musicians Beatriz Carbonell and Chloe Fletcher on violins, Katie Jarvis on viola, Rachel Gray on cello, Greg Birch on piano and Salecka herself on percussion instruments.

Selected by Salecka, Luminous Night showcases two pieces for voices, piano and string quartet by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo: Dark Night Of The Soul and Luminous Night Of The Soul.

Prima Vocal Ensemble in concert

“These works, with their meditative, cinematic sound, are raised to new levels by the use of poetry and lyrics by Charles Anthony Silvestri and St John of the Cross,” says Ewa.

The programme also features Arvo Pärt’s Fratres for string quartet, music by Dan Forrest and Elaine Hagenberg, Nordic folk tunes arranged by Frode Fjellheim and “breathtakingly beautiful” pieces by Ivo Antognini and Eugene Butler.

“Our recent sell-out concert series have proved very popular and there will be something for everyone in this event, which coincides with Prima’s 14th anniversary of providing memorable concert opportunities for singers and their audiences: the only choir to perform to this high standard without the need to audition,” says Ewa.

Throughout the first half of 2024, the choir is in parallel preparations for two noteworthy concerts in “Old” York and New York. “In June, we’ll return to New York City and Carnegie Hall for We Sing! We Rise! We Soar!, The Music of Christopher Tin & Greg Gilpin, produced by Distinguished Concerts International New York,” says Ewa.

“No strangers to the iconic venue, Prima will join international performers in a programme that will include multi-lingual music from Christopher Tin’s Grammy award-winning albums. So, if you happen to be in New York on June 9, come and hear Prima in this collaborative performance.”

Prima Vocal Ensemble’s poster for Luminous Night

Reflecting on Prima’s progress, Ewa says: “We’ve covered so much musical ground since our first rehearsal in May 2010. When I think back, I’m amazed by the variety and complexity of music we’ve performed, the amount of programme covered and the individuality of each and every event.

“There are some singers who have been there from the very beginning and I am extremely grateful to still be in this position after 14 years, promoting new music and new concerts in York.

“If anyone is looking for a unique creative outlet, then now really is the perfect time to join us. Rehearsals offer a warm and welcoming atmosphere with an emphasis on a positive, engaging learning experience. We are always welcoming singers who are team players, want to improve their vocal technique and expand their musical palette.”

For tickets for Luminous Night, go to “Limited spaces are available, so early booking is highly recommended,” advises Ewa.

“To find out more about Prima and the opportunities you can enjoy, please visit”

Prima Vocal Ensemble to give British premiere of two Ola Gjeilo works at Riley Smith Hall concert on November 6

On song: Prima Vocal Ensemble

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.

“For more than 12 years now, we’ve been one of the most versatile community choirs in the area,” says Prima Vocal Ensemble producer and conductor Ewa Salecka

“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.

The poster for Prima Vocal Ensemble’s Song Of The Universal concert in Tadcaster

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