Xara. It's an Arabic word meaning "blossoming," and with its melodious sound and edgy "x," it's the perfect name (and adjective) for the choir of 24 young women conducted by musical mover and shaker, Christina Murray.
In 2007, Murray was approached by four singers who were too old for youth choirs and not interested in the choirs aimed at "older people." With the help of the Halifax Camerata Singers, Xara was formed. The choir, which is made up of women aged 18 to 30, burst on to the Halifax music scene last November with an amazing concert that combined theatrical presentation and movement with a challenging repertoire of international music.
"It takes a really long time to design a show," explains Murray. "I start with a concept, some kind of basic narrative and then I do hours and hours of listening, hunting and researching. I usually find one or two centerpieces---longer works that are really visual and musically exciting---and then I build the rest of the program around those."
The theme of Xara's next concert is "Sweet Sleep: Lullabies and Night Music from Around the World." Using movement, spoken word, lighting and songs, this show will mark the passage of time from evening until dawn.
Murray has chosen lullabies in a multitude of languages including Inuktitut, French, Welsh and Finnish. The show ends with the vibrancy of dawn and the promise of a new day symbolized by Imogen Heap's "Can't Take it In."
"Sweet Sleep is a really special show," says Murray. "It's gentle and beautiful and yet it's so diverse that it's also exciting." Kate Watson