THE Christmas concert season is under way, and as choirs prepare their Yuletide fare, York’s Prima Choral Artists once again will push convention to one side on December 5.

“We’ll be welcoming an international artist – American soul, jazz and R&B artist Monique Thomas – to our beautiful city as Prima Vocal Ensemble present something new and exciting,” says Prima musical director Ewa Salecka.

“This time it’s Christmas music as you won’t hear it anywhere else this season, in the form of a soulful, toe-tapping gospel music show at the Grand Opera House with an 80-strong choir, Prima Gospel Band and guest soloists.”

Ewa’s coterie of York choirs is riding high: the Prima Vox a cappella choir has just returned from a successful 13th Varsovia Cantat International Choir Festival and competition in Warsaw, Poland, her home country.

“This three-day event saw Prima Vox perform four concerts in stunning locations, sharing a platform with choirs from Indonesia, Slovenia, Macedonia and beyond, with international directors and adjudicators such as composers Damijan Močnik and Romuald Twardowski,” says Ewa, who was awarded a distinction for best choral conducting by the international jury.

York Press:

"If you think you know Handel’s annual seasonal classic, it’s time to think again!" says Prima Choral Artists' musical director Ewa Salecka 

Back in York, nothing gives her more pride than to invite international musicians to “experience the beauty and strong cultural undercurrent of this city”. “On December 5, Prima Vocal Ensemble will bring an evening of rhythm and soul to the Grand Opera House stage in Rejoice! A Christmas Gospel,” says Ewa.

“This high-energy Christmas show will feature contemporary gospel and spiritual numbers with truly inspirational versions of Christmas tunes like you’ve never heard them before. If you think you know Handel’s annual seasonal classic, it’s time to think again!

“The evening’s highlight will be the guest appearance by Monique Thomas, who's flying over just for this event. A standard bearer for modern vocal techniques, Monique tours constantly across all continents and her sensational vocal talents have inspired the top notch of contemporary voice coaches across the globe.”

Ewa and Prima pianist Greg Birch’s tireless will to promote York and North Yorkshire has not gone unnoticed by the BBC. BBC Breakfast will present Carols With Carol this season from various British locations, and so on December 6 weather presenter Carol Kirkwood will be joined by Prima Vocal Ensemble at Castle Howard to wake the nation with Christmas music throughout the morning.

Prima Vocal Ensemble’s December diary also takes in Light Up A Life performance in aid of St Leonard’s Hospice at St Helen's Square, York on Sunday (December 2) at 6pm and Selby Abbey on December 9 at 4pm; their annual Carols At Central charity concert at Central Methodist Church, St Saviourgate, York, on December 16 at 3pm and their support slots at tenor Russell Watson’s re-scheduled Canzoni d'Amore shows at York Barbican on December 19 and Scarborough Spa Grand Hall the next night, both at 7.30pm.

Tickets for Wednesday’s 7.30pm Christmas gospel show are selling fast at and on 0844 871 3024.