Nova Scotia Music Week

Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
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From Crescendo to Cadence 

In the vibrant tapestry of Nova Scotia’s music scene, Allegra Swanson stands as a central figure, steering the ship as the Executive Director of Music Nova Scotia. With over 30 years of history, Music Nova Scotia has surpassed a significant milestone, boasting more than 1000 memberships across artists, industry professionals, and venues.

Having taken the helm in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Allegra’s passion for music administration and her love for the art itself converged in a unique opportunity to lead the organization. Relocating from Ontario, she embraced the chance to contribute to Nova Scotia’s music community.

Nova Scotia’s music culture, as Allegra describes it, is vast and diverse. From the Indigenous music of the Mi’kmaq people to the rich African Nova Scotian musical heritage and the Celtic roots of Cape Breton, the province resonates with centuries of musical history. Beyond these, emerging genres like hip hop, electronic, and dance are shaping the contemporary music landscape.

“We’re always conscious of recognizing where we’ve come from and respecting the history of music while supporting the development of new genres.”

Nova Scotia Music Week, a flagship event orchestrated by Music Nova Scotia, is a celebration of this musical diversity. Taking place in various locations, the event transforms local venues, infusing them with lights, smoke machines, and a variety of genres. This discovery festival, as Allegra terms it, invites attendees to explore different genres in one night – from a contract to an R&B act, followed by a singer-songwriter or a pop-punk band.

In 2023, Nova Scotia Music Week exemplified a shift in focus, moving away from headliners to spotlight emerging talents. The community support, especially from Yarmouth, has been crucial in this evolution. The event serves as a platform for artists to showcase their talents, collaborate, and build connections.

“We’re hoping to connect, hoping to inspire folks, and hoping to give them the tools to do what they need to do to make music.”

Beyond the performances, Nova Scotia Music Week includes a conference with mentorship sessions, international delegate meetings, and a unique five-minute pitch opportunity for artists. The fourth day culminates in an award show, recognizing outstanding contributions to the music community.

For Allegra, the importance of Nova Scotia Music Week lies in its ability to foster collaboration, connection, and engagement within the community. The event brings artists together, provides them with exposure, and offers a chance for them to evolve in a supportive environment. The collaborations and unexpected moments during the festival often lead to nominations and recognition in subsequent years.

In a broader context, Allegra emphasizes the integral role of funding through programs like Support4Culture in sustaining artists and the music industry. She believes that art is not a privilege but a necessity for survival, especially evident during challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding enables artists to create, adapt, and thrive.

Support4Culture has allowed us to provide a space for artists to feel safe, to connect with their peers, to unwind, and to recharge.”

In the hands of Allegra Swanson and Music Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia music scene continues to harmonize tradition and innovation, celebrating its rich history while nurturing emerging talents and pushing the boundaries of musical expression.

“People turn to music to get through challenging times. If artists can make it through that, we really need to do our part to allow artists to create. Art is not a privilege, in the sense that anyone can just kind of pick it up. Art is integral to our survival.”