New Glasgow-born jazz musician performing in Truro

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By Amanda Jess
TC Media
One of Beth McKenna’s jazz compositions is based on an airport bus travelling in rush hour traffic.

Beth McKenna started her jazz journey at Grade four in New Glasgow. She brings her Montreal-inspired compositions to Truro in late December. SUBMITTED PHOTO

The song builds until it takes off with excitement – just as the traffic subsides and the bus is able to move freely.

This is just one of the New Glasgow-born artist’s pieces written about experiences while living in Montreal.

“I’m looking forward to taking it home,” McKenna said. She has a show scheduled in Bible Hill on Dec. 27 with a group of jazz musicians from Truro and Pictou County.

McKenna grew up in New Glasgow, moving after she graduated from North Nova Education Centre in 2008.

She started studying clarinet with Andrew Alcorn in Grade 4 through private lessons, and continued to work with him through high school.

McKenna moved to the saxophone in Grade 5, and is still playing it today.

She was a part of a few concert bands in the area and performed in the New Glasgow Music Festival, where she went on to compete at a provincial level.

She left New Glasgow to study for five years at McGill University, earning a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Education.

Her list of performances is lengthy, including radio play on CBC Radio, musical theatre productions, and the Montreal International Jazz Festival.

At 24, McKenna is keeping busy with performing, composing and teaching as a substitute teacher in the western regional board of English schools in Montreal.

She started composing “The 514 Project” while she was in her final semester at McGill.

“The project consists of 15 compositions, which are similar to musical re-tellings completely inspired by places, people and experiences had while living in Montreal as a young adult.”

The show in Bible Hill will mark the project’s debut in Nova Scotia. It starts at 7 p.m. at Roadside Willies on Jennifer Drive for an $8 cover charge.

Organizations: McGill University, North Nova Education Centre, CBC Radio Roadside Willies on Jennifer Drive

Geographic location: New Glasgow, Montreal, Truro Bible Hill Pictou County Nova Scotia

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