IN JUST five years, Polish musician Ewa Salecka has made a remarkable impact on York’s choral scene, establishing two successful choirs in collaboration with pianist Greg Birch. For non-audition groups, both boast impressively full and varied concert schedules.

Although Thursday’s joint venture celebrated York’s Tour de France’s send-off, the ensembles themselves are no strangers to touring: Millegro performed in Budapest last year and visit Barcelona in October, while Prima Vocal Ensemble checked off New York in April with performances at Carnegie Hall.

Millegro overcame initially shaky amplification to loosen up the Theatre Royal audience, moving dexterously through French and English numbers. The programme’s call for more male voices was apt – the imbalance did not escape the ear. It was more nuanced music that allowed the choir to shine, Lauridsen’s Dirait-on delivered with glowing sensitivity.

With larger forces, Prima traversed genres seamlessly, Motown and musical theatre dispatched with equal confidence; rousing toe-tapper The Rhythm Of Life proved a highlight.

The imposing sight of the merged super-choir was matched in sound, new depth paving the way for a Gallic twist on Queen’s Bicycle Race and a winning rendition of Pharrell Williams’s Happy. Bobby Hebb’s Sunny drew together a wonderfully varied programme, its thread deftly illuminated by compère Neil Foster.

Underpinned by piano powerhouse Birch, the evening above all showcased Sa?ecka’s outstanding achievement, proceedings regulated by her exuberant direction. The fun was infectious; it seems unlikely that future programmes will include pleas to bolster membership. Get in there while you can!

Richard Powell