Shara Nova, The Crossing to perform songs addressing mental health

“Titration” performance to kick off Bravo! Big Sky Music Festival on Aug. 5

By Julia Barton DIGITAL PRODUCER

BIG SKY – How do we take care of ourselves in the midst of a proverbial storm of fear and stress?  In the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, systemic injustices, an inundating news cycle and a climate crisis, this is a question vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Shara Nova hopes to address through her performance in Big Sky on Aug. 5.

Nova will be performing the powerful and emotional song cycle “Titration” with Grammy Award-winning choir The Crossing at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center on Aug. 5 as part of the Bravo! Big Sky Music Festival. This ensemble, she said, is inspired by the overwhelming list of problems to process in today’s society and the impacts they have on us. It’s difficult to evaluate such challenges while also taking care of oneself, she said.

“We’re experiencing fear and stress, rage and grief,” Nova said. “All of those things are happening all at once. And so, the song cycle is basically: How do you take care of yourself?”

Nova said in between songs that address these emotions, the set will take pauses to explore how listeners can soothe their nervous systems, foster a sense of safety and grow in their capacity for human connection.

During these pauses, The Crossing choir will demonstrate physical somatic practices inspired by somatic abolitionist Resmaa Menakem. On his website, Menakem describes somatic abolitionism as a “living, embodied anti-racist practice and cultural building—a way of being in the world. It is a return to the age-old wisdom of human bodies respecting, honoring, and resonating with other human bodies.”

“I hope that people will walk away with some practices that they could employ at home,” Nova said about the performance. “And that we can feel more and not less.”

Nova referred to performing “Titration” with The Crossing as “a dream come true.” In fact, she is a self-proclaimed “super fan” of the choir who has listened to every record they’ve ever released. For their upcoming collaboration, she wrote the music to emphasize the choir’s existing styles and strengths to provide continuity with their previous work.

Nova was called to music from a young age. Her father led church choirs and her mother played the organ; together, their family of traveling evangelists explored the country with their music. A talented vocalist, Nova eventually went to school to study opera, moved to New York City and started creating music under the name My Brightest Diamond by 2006.

Her classical music background swerved in another direction when Nova adopted an identity as an indie pop artist known to flawlessly slide between genres.

“I was using classical orchestration for my indie pop music and I figured out that I could sing all the parts,” Nova explained. “So, I would sing the violins, violas, cellos and the horn parts.”

Through this unique take on pop music, Nova has released four albums as My Brightest Diamond and has written various larger works, including an orchestra for the Brooklyn Youth Choir. She’s also collaborated with David Byrne, The Decemberists and Laurie Anderson during her career.

For more information about the Bravo! Festival’s Aug. 5-6 schedule or to purchase tickets, head to bigskyarts.org/bravo-big-sky-music-festival/.

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