This tenth anniversary blog series will feature ten singers who have been an integral part of the ensemble. Each month, from September to June, you can look forward to "meeting" someone new!
SEPTEMBER'S FEATURED SINGER
One of Xara's founding members and former choir manager, Tenille performed with the ensemble for its first eight years. She was beloved for her expressive performing, her strong leadership, and her love of all things Xara. In this interview, she shares some insight on her experiences with XARA.
How long were or have you been a member of XARA?
Since it's inception. I guess in a way you could say I helped create this group, along with four other equally passionate choral singers. My friends (Allison, Claire, and Zoe) and I all grew up singing together in choirs, from the school board, provincial choir, and the Nova Scotia Choral Federation's choir camp. Upon exiting high school, there just wasn't much out there that appealed to us in terms of vibe and that would push us to a semi-professional level. So we just made it [laughs]. After our last stint with the Nova Scotia Youth Choir, whom Christina Murray had been co-conducting, we approached her with this idea and, to save you from all the details, after a year of planning, Xara was born.
You performed in the very first show that XARA put on ten years ago “AURORA”.
Tell me a little bit about that experience and the show itself.
Oh gosh. To be completely honest, after ten years it is really hard for me to distinguish one Xara memory from the other. They all combine into this glorious mishmash of years, songs, rehearsal, dances, laughter, learning, it is hard to parse out. I do, however, very distinctly remember one thing: After the concert, we all came off stage into our "green room", which was just the church hall, and had this awestruck, dumbfounded, "holy crap we just did that" moment. We quickly snapped out of it and many shouts and tears of joy followed. It was sort of the first moment of "Xara love", a term that we've coined over the years. It was super special.
Tell me what you feel best describes XARA, and what they accomplish together singing and performing?
Xara is, and always has been, hard to describe. I think that is because it has meant something different to so many people over that last ten years. How do you describe the collective experience of over one hundred people? To me, however, Xara has always been a place of support and empowerment. Ten years is a long time, and a lot happens to a person over that period, and every Sunday I got to come to this place that loved me, supported me, and ultimately made me a better person. Singing and performing, though our primary objective, were often just a bonus. It was the thing that brought us together, but we stuck together for something else much more special and indescribable.
How has XARA shaped your life?
In the simplest sense I don't think I would be where I am today without it. Xara taught me a lot of things about supporting people, especially other women, about patience, flexibility, understanding, love, acceptance, and so much more but it also provided me with an opportunity to grow in my career.
Xara was my first "job" in the music industry when I helped take on the ticketing, fundraising, and some marketing aspects early on. From that experience I navigated the industry and have ended up working at Atlantic Canada's biggest festivals (ECMA and Halifax Jazz Festival) and have now moved to Toronto and work with major festivals in Ontario (WayHome and Boots and Hearts).
Sadly this move took me away from Xara, but I am excited to join these women once again for our very first Ontario tour!
And besides, I left Xara but it never really left me.