EXTRAORDINARY choral opportunities have always been the aspiration behind Millegro and Prima Vocal Ensemble, but this year marks a concert season unlike any other for York's two largest community choirs.

More than 40 members from Prima flew to New York last month to perform on one of the world's great stages, Carnegie Hall, where they were the only choir from outside the United States to be invited to participate in the première of Christopher Tin's The Drop That Contains The Sea.

Two weeks earlier, Prima gave a rousing concert to a packed house at St. Michael le Belfrey, York, and post-USA travels, musical director Ewa Salecka-Birch has hardly had time for her feet to touch the ground before turning her attention to a new performance by Millegro.

Working in tandem with pianist husband Greg Birch, Ewa has constructed a spring concert for Wednesday night at the York Guildhall that celebrates Millegro's five years of innovative community singing.

The 8pm programme promises haunting works by Ola Gjeilo, Eric Whitacre, Arvo Part, Ralph Manuel, Sergei Rachmaninoff and Z. Randall Stroope, plus world, jazz and folk music, to the accompanist of Birch and guest musicians.

As the driving force behind the groups, Ewa does not limit her creativity to creating exciting repertoires, but extends it to organising and producing the vast scope of events.

"I'm determined to offer York audiences unique choral concerts and feel so animated about the year ahead! " she says. "For the first time we'll be bringing both choirs together on July 3 at YorkTheatre Royal to celebrate Le Grand Depart for the Tour de France, and after the success of our choral tours of Italy and Budapest last year, Millegro will be taking part in the Barcelona 11th International Choral Festival in October.

"There are many charity performances lined up and we'll always be supporting local fund-raising, but as a musician, the highlight of 2014 will definitely be on October 31 and November 1 when both groups have the chance to perform in York with Eduardo Niebla, the great flamenco, gipsy and jazz guitarist and composer.

"These are all such singular opportunities and, for me, there's no greater thrill than to realise that it 's regular people from York that will be building these lasting memories."

Anyone who wants to share these experiences by joining either community choir should contact Ewa and Greg via the websites, primavocalensemble.co.uk and millegro.co. "Tenors and basses, you are especially welcome," says Ewa.

Tickets for Millegro's Spring Concert on Wednesday cost £12 or £10 for concessions online at millegro@gemmusic.co.uk or on the door from 7.15pm. Refreshments will be on sale and there will be no interval. Tickets for Hit The Road Jacques – Massed Voices for Le Tour de France on July 3 at 7.30pm are on sale on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

Charles Hutchinson