New Glasgow born jazz musician performing in Truro

Amanda Jess
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MONTREAL – Beth McKenna finds inspiration in irony.

Beth McKenna started her jazz journey at grade four in New Glasgow. She brings her Montreal-inspired compositions to the east coast in late December. SUBMITTED

One of her jazz compositions is based on an airport bus travelling in rush hour traffic.

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 Truro on Dec. 27 with a group of jazz musicians from Pictou County and Truro.

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.

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

“It was a great launching point,” she said of Pictou County.

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 Truro will mark the project’s debut in Nova Scotia. It starts at 7 p.m. at Roadside Willie’s Smokehouse and Grill for an $8 cover charge.

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda 

Organizations: McGill University, North Nova Education Centre, CBC Radio

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

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Recent comments

  • Paul Thomson
    December 18, 2013 - 05:37

    Good on 'ya Beth! I think I seen you perform at the Montreal International Jazz Festival a number of years ago come to think of it. Was that you then? I'm keeping my eye on the festival information ( to see if you're announced, fingers crossed for 2014/15. Best of luck with your music in the future! Paul