Festival of the Sound joins with our colleagues in the arts and culture sector across Canada in acknowledging this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Reconciliation is a process, not a day. In recognition of this Festival of the Sound Artistic Director James Campbell is announcing the remounting of the 2018 Festival production of Sounding Thunder: The Song of Francis Pegahmagabow.
Sounding Thunder is a musical production based on the life of renowned Ojibwe WWI hero and political activist Francis Pegahmagabow. While honoured by the Canadian military Pegahmagabow remains relatively unknown by the general Canadian public. Written and composed with approval and participation from Francis’ family and community of Wasauksing (Parry Island), the production is a model for collaboration.
This multi-media performance work includes original orchestral music, spoken word, traditional and contemporary Anishnabek singing, and digital media. Ojibwe poet Armand Ruffo states “in writing the libretto I drew imaginatively upon Anishnaabe ontology, particularly both human and other-than-human ‘worlds’, while grounding it in factual information about Francis’ life.” Consulting with Pegahmagabows’ great grandson Dr. Brian McInnis, who is a specialist in Anishinaabemowin and family historian. Similarly, the music, composed by Tim Corlis, was created with input from musicians Jody Baker, an Anishnaabequay from Francis’ home community of Wasauksing, and Jennifer Kreisberg, a Tuscarora member of the renowned Native American singing group ULALI.
Ruffo states “This is a period of truth and reconciliation. Understand there’s a truth in this in terms of the roadblocks that have been put up to keep Indigenous people in our place, so to speak, and out of the mainstream of Canada. We are marginalized people. So I want them to see that as the truth. But also as part of the reconciliation, I think that there is hope. This is a production that emphasizes Francis’s faith in the future, in his people, in Canada.”
The original tour earned glowing reviews during its first run in 2018. With a renewed focus on Truth & Reconciliation among settler and mainstream populations across Canada, 2022 is an ideal time to remount the production.
“Pegahmagabow’s life story is a stark reminder of how the Canadian government long shrugged off treaty obligations, basic needs of First Nations and even the achievements of one of its foremost war heroes. But Sounding Thunder never wallows in pity. Rather, it lays out the story so that we can be inspired to do better in the future.”
John Terauds, The Toronto Star, July 24, 2018