Sarah Nematallah, Executive and Artistic Director
Sarah Nematallah has led a rewarding career as a performer and arts administrator since 2004, with an extensive history of representing Canada and the Canadian Arts Scene both nationally and internationally, in over 30 countries on 5 continents. As a violinist, Ms. Nematallah is a founding member of the award winning, JUNO nominated Cecilia String Quartet, and has performed solo, orchestral, and chamber music internationally for institutions such as the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam); the Berlin Konzerthaus; London’s Wigmore Hall, the Library of Congress (Washington D.C.); the Verbier Festival (Switzerland); and the Banff Summer Arts Festival. In addition to her touring profile, Ms. Nematallah has performed and given presentations on music for hundreds of non-standard venues and audiences, including California School for the Blind (Fremont CA), San Francisco County Jail (San Francisco CA), the Monarch School for Homeless Youths (San Diego CA), Learning Through the Arts at the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto ON), and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (Stanford CA). Ms. Nematallah was the recipient of the University of Toronto William and Phyllis Waters Graduating Award given to a graduating student deemed by the University to have the greatest potential for making an important contribution to the field of music.
Ms. Nematallah was previously Adjunct Professor at The University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, as well as Co-coordinator of the Faculty’s Chamber Music Program. Ms. Nematallah has extensive experience with public media, with performances and live interviews given on CBC Radio 1 and 2, WQXR (New York), DeutschlandRadio (Germany), and BBC Radio 3 (England). She has appeared as a panel speaker for organizations such as the Canadian Arts Presenting Organization (CAPACOA), Chamber Music America, the International Artists Managers’ Association (IAMA), and CIHR Café Scientifique. Currently the organization’s Executive and Artistic Director, Ms. Nematallah is a proud co-founder of Xenia Concerts Inc.
Paolo Griffin, Managing Director
Paolo Griffin is a musician and arts administrator based in Toronto. His work in arts administration has spanned continents, having worked in Finland, The Netherlands, and Canada. As a composer, Paolo’s music has been performed internationally in over 10 countries. He is also the founder and director of Freesound, a contemporary music ensemble based in Toronto. He is active in the contemporary music and arts scenes of Toronto, and is a passionate advocate of accessible arts for everyone. Paolo’s education has taken him from the University of Toronto (Canada), to the Sibelius Academy (Finland), and the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague (The Netherlands). Since 2019, Paolo has been the Managing Director of Xenia Concerts Inc.
Evan Lamberton, Artistic Administrator
A native of Vancouver, Evan Lamberton began his foray into music with the clarinet. After several stints in band camp over the years he now resides in Toronto where he studied with internationally renowned cellist Shauna Rolston at the University of Toronto. Prior to moving to Toronto, Evan studied under cellist Ariel Barnes under whose tutelage he developed a passion for chamber music and contemporary works – both facets of the musical ouvre he enjoys exploring in tandem. Evan has also had the great pleasure of studying under such eminent artists as the Julliard String Quartet, Rachel Mercer, the Cecilia String Quartet the Gryphon Trio, and the St. Lawrence String Quartet. A winner of the Felix Galimir Award for Excellence in Chamber Music in both 2014 and 2016, Evan attended the St. Lawrence String Quartet seminar at Stanford University as a member of the Erato String Quartet. When not teaching for Sistema Toronto, Evan can be found playing for Musica Reflecta and the Queer Songbook Orchestra
Xenia Concerts Inc. Board of Directors
Robert Williams, President and Chair
Robert Williams, President of Xenia Concerts, has Master’s degrees in Social Work and Fine Arts and a Ph.D. in Bioethics. He has worked as a bioethicist, social worker, archaeologist, dance historian and bookseller. His great-grandfather was the distinguished founder of “R. S. Williams & Sons,” a prominent Toronto company that made and sold musical instruments in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His grandfather donated an important collection of historical musical instruments and materials to the Royal Ontario Museum. Robert collects instruments associated with his family’s company and has loaned a number of fine stringed instruments to promising young musicians. He has also supported the Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC) and the Royal Conservatory of Music through its scholarship and chamber music programs. Understanding the universal power of music, Robert is proud to support Xenia Concerts, which makes great music accessible to all people.
Gillian Story, Vice-Chair
Gillian Story professionally bridges the arts and business, with a decade of not-for-profit arts experience, followed by an exciting transition into the finance industry. After holding positions in education and management with two of Canada’s largest arts organizations, the Canadian Opera Company and the Royal Conservatory of Music, which included leading the successful degree granting approval project for the Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School, Ms. Story has successfully transitioned into the corporate sector as Program Manager with Sun Life Financial, where she has led major strategic projects and won an award in her first year for her work on Sun Life’s United Way campaign.
Ms. Story remains deeply invested in the arts, serving as Vice-Chair of the board of accessibility-focused not-for-profit Xenia Concerts, hosting the Royal Conservatory Orchestra’s pre-concert interview series, as well as performing and recording with a Toronto-based indie band.
Ms. Story holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music and Psychology from Concordia University, a Masters Certificate in Public and Not-For-Profit Management from York’s Schulich School, and an Executive MBA candidate at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management
David Guiney, Secretary
David Guiney is a lawyer and resident of Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada. Among several volunteer activities, David has coached boys’ hockey and served, among other positions, as the Chair of the Etobicoke Children’s Centre (“ECC”). Over a period of 10 years, David’s experience with ECC led to his participation as Secretary of the board of directors of Xenia. David is a partner at Tanner & Guiney Associates, Barristers and Solicitors. His practice involved providing advice to cooperatives and credit unions. Between 2008 and 2018, David left Tanner & Guiney to serve as the chief operating officer of a provincial warranty corporation. David holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto, a Masters in Public Administration from Queen’s University, and a LL.B from McGill University. David is an avid golfer and cyclist. He is married with two sons. He is learning, through his experience at Xenia, to appreciate the beauty of classical and jazz music and its benefits for children with autism and mental health challenges and their families.
Robert Tanner, Treasurer
Robert Tanner is a lawyer practicing in Toronto and is a founding board member of Xenia Concerts Inc.
David Visentin, Director
David Visentin is widely known throughout Canada as a performer, conductor, pedagogue and arts administrator whose leadership and creative experience in the performing arts has successfully advanced classical music from coast to coast. In 2011, founded Sistema Toronto and was appointed as the organization’s President and CEO. For six years, David served as Dean and Associate Dean of The Glenn Gould School and Young Artists Performance Academy of The Royal Conservatory of Music and held the position of principal conductor of the Royal Conservatory Academy Orchestra. David is currently the Director of the Victoria Conservatory of Music Postsecondary Department and the Chair of the Camosun College Music Department.
Amanda Smith, Director
Amanda Smith is the Director of Marketing & Communication for the Honens International Piano Competition & Festival. She plays both the piano and saxophone and received a Bachelor of Music with a Minor in Marketing from Queen’s University. After teaching English in Honduras for a year, Amanda returned to Calgary to complete her MBA from Trinity Western University in Non-Profit and Charitable Organization Management.
With over 10 years of corporate sales and marketing experience, Amanda is excited to be working with the Xenia Concerts to further their mission of making quality classical music accessible to all.