Past Shows

Toxic Psalms

Artist’s Praise

[A] mesmerising combination of steely discipline with exuberant physicality. The sound is often the hard-edged chesty.., but the singers can shift to clean, honey-toned romanticism or glassy polytonality in the blink of an eye
— Shirley Apthorp, Financial Times

[They] radiate fantastic energy, composure and professionalism on stage ... In all positions fully master all techniques at all times with astonishing perfection
— Marie-Aude Roux, Le Monde

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About the Show

Ultimate Collective Experience
Directed by Karmina Šilec

"I'll tell you. You're young, but you're one of us, and I'm one of us, so I'll tell you."

Vocal theatre company Carmina Slovenica, world renowned for its unconventional choral storytelling with superb singing, drama, and movement, brings its unique “choregie” concept to New York City for TOXIC PSALMS, an open-ended collection of scenes by Hanne Blank, Veljo Tormis, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Karin Rehnquist, Jacob Cooper, Hafiz, Bronius Kutavičius, juxtaposing music and texts from medieval to present times. Led by internationally acclaimed conductor Karmina Šilec, the troupe creates a highly theatrical and visceral experience through vocal music that is both unexpected and provocative. The essence of Toxic Psalms is the idea of "the Collective", embodied by a chorus of 30 young women - an organism that reflects the human desire to merge. Channeling ancient and modern humanities, the gripping repertoire invokes the Middle East, Pussy Riot, Africa, weapons, extinctions, contaminations and abuses of religions. The life of man has become an unending drama of human brutality - men killing for the glory of their psalms. In the age of #YesAllWomen and #NotInMyName, Carmina Slovenica is a mighty arsenal of collective power.

Toxic Psalms is a co-presentation with Carmina Slovenica and St. Ann's Warehouse.

The idea of the Chorus-Collective is at the core of the Toxic Psalms performance and embodies the primal realms of the human condition. Built upon the concept that "chorus can take over from us and experience for us our innermost and most spontaneous feelings and attitudes," by acclaimed Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, in Toxic Psalms, the Chorus represent the views of contemporary society holding up certain moral and cultural standards—much like the media does in our daily lives.


Directed by Karmina Šilec

Performed by Vocal Theatre Carmina Slovenica

Costumes by Belinda Radulovič

Set Design by Karmina Šilec

Lighting Design by Andrej Hajdinjak

Sound Design by Danilo Zenko

Produced by Carmina Slovenica

Co-presented by Carmina Slovenica and St. Ann's Warehouse


Show Run Time: 90 minutes



Artist Bio

CARMINA SLOVENICA, a highly distinguished musical expert wrote, has a place "on world’s stages between Berlin and San Francisco Carmina Slovenica holds a central position international vocal music scene and has indeed performed on concert stages worldwide." Concert tours in almost all countries of Europe, the USA, Canada, Africa, Central and South America, Japan, China and others, many top awards at international choral competitions, participation in various international projects, recordings made for many radio and television stations, excellent reviews of the ensemble's performances by musical experts and critics. All these achievements speak for themselves and confirm the ensemble's remarkable reputation. In selecting the repertoire, its groundbreaking exploration of voices as an instrument, as eloquent language in and of itself, expands the boundaries of  vocal concert performances, creating landscapes of sound. What is particularly fascinating is the sound itself being delivered by the singers in a creative process in which changes of registers, various vocal techniques of throat  singing, natural timbre and cultivated belcanto articulation seem so natural and simple as if it were a spontaneous game, an everyday form of communication. The result is some sort of a superb ‘new age’, an absolute musical experience which crosses the borders of cultures, nations, beliefs and merges with the universal human soul into a harmonious organism. Karmina Šilec crossed the borders of spiritual and cultural limitations, of exclusiveness and prejudice built across centuries, and brought the (musical) world back into the sphere of unity, togetherness, of what is warmly ours. Staged performances of her ensembles can best be described as virtuosic: with impeccable intonation, clear sound, brilliant movement, free of obstacles, almost auto-hypnotic – defined by a flow of energy of an utterly disciplined and ambitious ensemble.

KARMINA ŠILEC (Artistic Director) has brought freshness and originality to the world of vocal music,  opening new spaces of expression, persuasiveness, intensity of experience, and  communication. With “Choregie - vocal theatre” and its innovative interventions, she has opened wider artistic spaces and set trends towards complex multi-media events—productions performed on stages of festivals worldwide and broadcasted by the EBU and Eurovision. As conductor, she has projects with various ensembles: the Carmina Slovenica choir, the Radio Slovenia Symphony Orchestra, the Slovenian National  Opera and Ballet Maribor, the Slovenian National Project Choir, the ¡Kebataola! ensemble, the Orchestra Chorus Instrumentalis, and many ensembles worldwide. With this concept of vocal theatre, her ensemble perform on stages worldwide: from Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Hall to the Teresa Carreño Theatre in Caracas, and from Hong Kong Cultural Centre, San Francisco Symphony Hall to Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. Her ensemble Carmina Slovenica has been invited to art events of the highest esteem such as the World Music Days (organized by the ISCM), Ruhrtriennale, Festival d'Automne á Paris, Moscow Easter Festival, Dresdner Musikfestspiele, Ruhrtriennale, Melbourne Festival, the European Symposium on Choral Music (organized by the IFCM), Steirischer Herbst, Holland festival, America Cantat, etc. Karmina Šilec has received more than 20 of the highest and different special awards in international competitions, among them award by the ITI – International Theatre Institute "Music Theatre Now" in the category "Music beyond opera," and the International Robert Edler Prize for Choral Music for her contribution to the world choir movement. She gives lectures lectures at many universities and symposiums around the world and is regularly a guest conductor, jury member and member of artistic committees at festivals and competitions. Karmina Šilec is the artistic director of Choregie – New Music Theatre, the international project Attacca, the Choregie aka Choregie festival for new music theatre. There are few artistic teams in Slovenia as widely recognized in the international arena as can undoubtedly be said for Karmina Šilec’s outstanding ensembles Carmina Slovenica and ¡Kebataola!, together with the movements she created.

Artist Statement


 ·       a progressive and innovative art form 

·       vocal music in creative freedom 

·       new spaces of expression in the world of music and theatre 

·       a space where music and theatre play complementary and potentially equal roles 

·       a trend of complex, multi-genre art events 

Choregie is a performance in the 'no-man's-world' – a world that is not a world of music, nor drama or dance; it is a scenic adventure. 

Choregie focuses on the creation process that brings the musical notion of composing to the theatrical aspects of performing and staging. In Choregie a ‘meta composition’ is created by positioning different music materials into a bigger composition. Treatment of voice, movement, light, image, sound, gesture and other elements of theatrical production is mostly based on musical principles and compositional techniques, and so musical thinking applies to the performance as a whole. Different elements in the performance merge into one (movement, singing, word, visual), all means are used either in a balance or in favor of one; a fusion of all this gives very different semantic directions. Inside this field a dialogue starts between the sound and the space, between the space and the performers, between the performers and the audience, between the audience and the sound. Sound and image carry different meanings and with this coexistence a third meaning can be achieved. In such a creative process we are interested most in the things that do not only have an unambiguous meaning. Sometimes we simply don’t want to narrow down a text (either music or words) to one meaning only. It seems exciting to allow the familiar (or unfamiliar) materials, on which a Choregie project is built, the possibility to discover in them always and again new perspectives, various levels and even layers. Such exploring always becomes an open process. The music itself becomes interesting also in other ways as it gets references in a non-musical world. The basic disposition of Choregie is music which refers to other fields, music which reacts to other fields.   

What is also interesting in the Choregie concept is the vocal exploration being carried out by the singers. Process of working could be called a Voice Laboratorium or even better a Voice Exploratorium, voice is namely in the center of research. In the performance the voice is impersonated and becomes an independent manifestation, a personality or personalities. At the same time the voice becomes, embodies, transforms into a completely different character, a different spirit. It has a direct link to the whole specter of emotions. A psychoanalytical language of sounds is built, as the sounds create a ‘sound landscape’ which controls the theatre or concert stage. By following innovations in terms of comprehending beauty and the depth of the meaning of vocal music, our projects represent a rich presentation of various sound colors.

Each new project is an expedition into the field of the unknown and the unexplored. Artistically, we parallel different types of music and various musical eras; by merging the ethnic, the early and the contemporary we try to create new, exciting musical contexts.