Christina Murray is the Artistic Director of Xara Choral Theatre Ensemble. She approaches her conducting practice through the voice, and is known for her innovative programming as well as her visionary commitment to decolonizing the choral art form.
Christina holds an honours undergraduate degree in music (voice/conducting) and philosophy from Mount Allison University. She has continued graduate work in feminist liturgical practices, and has subsequently studied conducting with Diane Loomer, Jon Washburn, Michael Zaugg, and Elise Bradley. Also an active and accomplished choral singer, as a young person she was selected for two hours with the National Youth Choir of Canada and has frequently sung with the Canadian Chamber Choir since 2007. Christina served as Head of Choral Studies at Kodaikanal International School in South India from 2002-2004 and has twice served as Resident Conductor of the Nova Scotia Youth Choir (2005-2006 and 2017-18). She currently also serves as the Head of Choral Studies at Dalhousie University.
Sarain Fox is the choreographer for Xara Choral Theatre Ensemble. In 2011, Sarain was invited by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada to co-create a performance piece with Xara, and the result was the original production of Fatty Legs. Since that time, she has focused her artistic practice exclusively on work that supports Indigenous cultural reclamation and the decolonization of “classical” art forms. She is deeply rooted in her commitment to her traditional Anishinaabe culture and the work of building bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
Sarain has been studying, practicing, and performing as a professional dancer for the past twenty years. After formative training in Ontario, she trained through the Alvin Ailey Bachelor of Fine Arts Program in New York City. She performed for two summers with the Ajkun Ballet Theatre Company in New York City and went on to become a member of Untitled Collective, a NYC based Australian aboriginal modern dance collective, as well as Kahawaii Dance Theatre, an Ontario-based company that explores the intersection between Indigenous dance residencies at The Banff Centre, which allowed her to work with Neil Iremia of Black Grace and Javier Dezule of Dezule Dance.
Jessica Mailhiot has been heavily involved in the arts and entertainment industry for over 26 years in both administrative and performing roles. At the age of six, she started studying piano and voice, and after ten years of lessons headed to Halifax to study at Dalhousie in Music and Psychology. In 1997, she left to explore the wild west and worked as an administrator for a prominent Yamaha Canada Music school for eight years, traveling to various schools in Canada, the USA, and Asia.
Equipped with her diploma in Human Resources and Labour Laws, Jessica returned to Halifax in 2009. Since that time, she has worked for Atlantic Cirque and in several roles at Dalhousie University where she serves as the Productions and Outreach Coordinator at the Fountain School of Performing Arts. Jessica has been the General manager for Xara Choral Theatre since 2017, and is proud to dedicate her time to support a dynamic group of womxn who make meaningful and beautiful art.
Collaborative Pianist & Composer in Residence
Pianist, composer, and educator Jennifer Trites studied theory and composition at Memorial University. Since discovering her passion for choral music as a child, she has been a member of many different school and community based choirs, including the Memorial University Festival and Chamber Choirs, Choeur Maha, and the Saint Lawrence Choir. Jenny is currently teaching elementary music for the Halifax Regional School Board.
Jenny has been recognized for her innovative work in both the music and theatre communities of Nova Scotia. In 2013, Jenny was lauded for her large-scale work, The Roaring Girl – a musical adaptation of a 17th century comedic play. Recently, her choral compositions have won competitions held by the Amadeux choir, the Oriana Women’s Choir, and Atlantic Voices. In addition to singing with Xara, Jenny has also served as musical director for the Gilbert and Sullivan Society.
Resident Lighting Designer
Originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Matt Downey has been operating as a Designer and Theatre Technician in Halifax for five years. He is a frequent collaborator with Xara, Lions Den Theatre, and the Villain’s Theatre (formerly Vile Passeist Theatre) as a lighting and set designer. He is a recent recipient of both the Wes Daniels Design Award and the Robert Merritt Technician Award.
Stage & Personnel Manager
In 2008, Erin Gaudet joined the newly formed Camerata Xara Young Women’s Choir as a singer in the Alto section. Today, she is thrilled to continue her work with Xara as the Stage and Personnel Manager. Past involvement in the arts has been an important part of Erin’s life, and she enjoys all aspects of preparing for a performance. In her “other life,” Erin is a middle school teacher in the Annapolis Valley.