Archive | May, 2012

Acclaimed Choral Theatre Duo Christina Murray and Claire Leger Launch Girls Youth Ensemble

31 May


Christina Murray and Claire Leger, the exciting artistic duo behind Camerata Xara Young Women’s Choir announce a new choral theatre project for female youth, ages 14-18. The Xara Youth Ensemble (XYE) is atraining and performance ensemble beginning its pilot project in September, 2012. Auditions will be held June 18-21 and August 27-31. Registration for auditions can be found online at

Art educators, performers, adjudicators, administrators, directors and creators, Murray and Leger are excited to continue their pioneering of choral theatre in Canada. The Xara Youth Ensemble will give teens the rare opportunity to be involved with this innovative art form. The youth involved will learn and collaborate with two multi-faceted talents, Leger and Murray, in an open and creative environment.

“Girls with an interest in the performing arts blossom through training in choral theatre,” said Murray. “It engages their whole selves – voice, intellect, body and spirit. I’ve watched countless young women transform from unsure singers into committed, powerful, all-round performers. On top of that, Xara seems to build confidence that spills over into the rest of their lives. It’s so rewarding for Claire and I to have a role in facilitating this.”

Choral theatre is stunning storytelling through choral singing, theatre, and movement. Beautiful spaces, lighting, and spoken word are also integral parts of telling these original stories. The result is a unique and beautiful feast for the senses and a rich, all-encompassing stage experience for performers.

The Xara Youth Ensemble will provide pre-professional preparation in music, movement and theatre. This training will be showcased in an original production Daughters of Fire, to be performed in November. Training will be multi-faceted: music, theory and writing music; yoga, dance and choreography; scene work and character development.

“I couldn’t have gotten this training anywhere else. I wish that when I was in high school I had the opportunity to be involved with Xara,” said Kallie White of Dartmouth. “Xara has given me confidence on and off the stage. Performers will learn so much, make amazing connections and have a blast!”

The group will rehearse on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 – 8:30pm. Tuition for the term (September to December) is $250. To arrange an audition between June 18-21 and August 27-31, visit

Xara Youth Ensemble is training and performance ensemble in the art of choral theatre for female youth ages 14-18. Christina Murray and Claire Leger, the exciting artistic duo behind Xara Young Women’s Choir, have expanded their pioneering choral theatre practices with this new creation, commencing in September 2012.


Ryan Cook: A Hard Working Country Boy; or the Tale of a Musician Making it.

28 May

Ryan Cook and me (Laurie) I went to help out Ryan Cook at his show yesterday at Acadia Hall, in Lower Sackville. The place was packed with all kinds of people, young and old, clapping along to the beauty of his guitar playing and the way his voice beautifully can sound like Willie Nelson one minute, Johnny Cash the next, or just wonderful him.

The thing about Ryan Cook is, he is making it. He is out there touring, performing and keeping his audiences and growing new ones. Last year he opened for both Dwight Yoakam, and Travis Tritt on some Canadian dates.

At one point in the show he made a comment about how in today’s music industry that best you can be doing is making it. That is making a career in music, if you are traveling, playing to crowds, and retaining and making fans, then you are “making it”. It has never been harder to have a career in the music industry and it takes some serious time, effort and love of what you are doing.

Nobody ever said that being a musician is easy, and nobody knows that better than a musician who is working full-time at their career. I think Ryan Cook serves as an inspiration to others, and he does it all gratefully; always being sure to genuinely thank his fans; and with a killer smile that makes the ladies swoon.

Check him out here: Ryan Cook’s website.




24 May

We’re snobs, we can’t deny it. Book snobs especially. (Our mutual love of Archie comics may throw you, but trust us). We just read Shades of Grey for our book club. Not to be confused with Fifty Shades of Grey, we say with scorn. We know, everyone is jizzing all over it, but we’re just not interested. The number of books outnumber the hours available to read, therefore we have no choice but to be snobby about it.

We were lamenting this fact when this delightful article was discovered. The internet knows everything. Please give it a read, and rejoice in snobbery. We’ll be smarter for it.

PS Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde is an excellent, thoughtful and funny read. Fforde weaves a fantastical tale through his dystopic future of colourtocracy.  His imagination is unbelievable, we were delighted and interested.

WAIL: Songs of the Brier Island Siren

12 May

 It was our first choral theatre experience and it won’t be our last! Camerata Xara Young Women’s Choir presented WAIL: Songs of the Brier Island Siren last night at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (It’s on again this evening. Probably sold out. You snooze, you lose.) Where to begin? Choral theatre is an emerging art form being practiced by only a handful of ensembles worldwide. Inspired by a theme or idea, the artistic duo behind Xara (the stupendously talented Christina Murray & Claire Leger) create an original performance piece using existing choral music and songs from a variety of periods and styles. Music is the text in these beautifully crafted plays. Movement, visual and sound effects are woven in effortlessly.

As for WAIL, wow. WAIL is a full-length piece of choral theatre that imagines the life of the mythical sirens who live on the shores of Nova Scotia’s Brier Island. Christina and Claire devised the show by combining ancient cross-cultural lore about Sirens with the true story of Joshua Slocum, native Brier Islander and first man to circumnavigate the world alone.

“It was amazing to us that Nova Scotia, or even coastal North America, didn’t have a siren myth since almost all cultures have a version of this story,” says Murray. “When we read about Joshua Slocum and the ship-wreck history of Brier Island, we knew we had the ingredients for a fascinating tale.”

WAIL tells the story of a group of Sirens and their relationship with young Joshua as he dealt with his difficult childhood and prepared for a life as a sailor.  In Xara’s imagination of this story, Joshua’s years playing with the sirens on Brier Island made him immune to their lure elsewhere as he sailed around the world.  “Most siren myths paint these creatures as evil seductresses without any story of their own,” says Murray.  “As a performance group of women, we wanted to explore what might have made the sirens sad or angry enough to spend their lives luring sailors to their death with their songs.”

With WAIL, Xara has added a new story to Nova Scotia’s folklore cannon. It was 120 minutes of beauty, passion, imagination – art that truly brings chills down your spine, thoughts to your mind and hope to your heart. The 20 young women of Xara have mind-blowing talent, and their voices together in harmony was magic. Their grace – in voice and movement – in telling this rich story seemed effortless. The music chosen to tell this new and vibrant story was eclectic, yet seemed destined to be sung together. Simple yet effective costuming and stunning make up really complemented the performances.

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic proved to be an excellent venue for such a performance. The acoustics were ideal. The use of two levels, the lights dancing across the sails of the boats in the Museum, the windows overlooking the water…..all we can say is site specific productions really work.

Choral theatre is an exciting new art form and we encourage all to engage. Drop any pre-conceived notions of what it may be or what you may or may not like and go see some choral theatre. (Preferably tonight, if you can still get tickets.) Keep an eye out for Xara, as they have already performed internationally and are no-doubt headed for a bigger spotlight. Follow them on twitter and like them on facebook to stay in the loop, as you don’t want to miss what they got going on! Awaken your soul with beautiful music and amazing storytelling.

Window Ballet 2: Electric Boogaloo!

11 May

Lisa Lipton is a super lady. She has been in numerous bands, is an artist and performance artist, and one of the most creative people I know. I am not the only person who thinks that. Halifax Regional Municipality also sees the appeal of a lady like Lisa, and once again are supporting her latest awesome project.

I am not sure if you caught Nocturne last Fall, but Lisa did a performance piece inside a house (with the help of many friends). You watched from the street and moved along with the performances, watched it all go down as figures bumped along inside, music was perfectly timed and feelings arise in your chest as you waited for the next thing to happen.

This time around Lisa is holding another house performance, but at the magical little house on the corner of Point Pleasant Park known as the Gatekeeper’s Lodge. Lisa has been living there the last couple of months, as part of an Art grant, and I found it comforting to hear her banging away on the drums, as the dogs and Courtney and I passed. I could always picture her in there, her little hands spinning away on something amazing.

So the Gatekeeper’s Lodge is the place to see Window Ballet 2 on May 18th and 19th. There are two performances each night, at 9PM and 10PM. And it’s FREE! There will be performances and musical compositions by many of your local favorites and it is bound to fascinate.

SheMachine Performance Footage

4 May

SheMachine was fortunate enough to have the skills of many talented artists in Halifax for their debut show, including videographer Darcy Fraser (yep, brother of wicked photographer Aaron McKenzie Fraser). He shot some great footage of SheMachine’s performance  at the Company House.  It makes us impatient for more live fun with them – can’t wait!