Volunteer reporter Kathryn Stevenson interviewed composer and educator John Beckwith, who was recently awarded an honorary degree from Mount Allison University. Beckwith’s work, primarily chamber compositions, focuses on making Canadian history live through music.

Stevenson asked “How do you turn history into music?” Beckwith cited a composition he was commissioned to write on the topic of the 1979 mass evacuation of Missasauga, Ontario, due to a train derailment and subsequent chemical spill. Beckwith “researched news articles and video of the event in order to be able to evoke what [the evacuation] felt like, turning a city the size of Missasauga into a ghost town.”