During the summer of 1979, renowned pianist Anton Kuerti organized three concerts by outstanding Canadian musicians. The enthusiastic response to these programs inspired him to propose an annual concert series. In 1985, James Campbell began his tenure as the Festival’s second Artistic Director, a position he still holds with distinction.
Initially held in the gymnasium of the local high school, the Festival has grown from a two-week Festival in one venue with a budget of $60,000 in 1980 to a three-week Festival held in multiple venues in 2019 with a budget of $760,000.
In 2003, the Festival of the Sound got its home, the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts, on the Georgian Bay waterfront. With a desire to share its love for music with the local community, the Festival launched its innovative and highly successful school music program, Music Scores, in 2005.
Since 2016, the Festival has annually been named one of Ontario’s Top 100 Festivals and Events by Festivals and Events Ontario. The Festival of the Sound is proud to have presented an acclaimed world-class chamber music festival on the spectacular Georgian Bay for over forty years.
Due to the pandemic, programming transitioned to a virtual platform. In the face of adversity, the Festival adapted and responded creatively to fulfill its mission: to deliver a celebration of classical music for the enrichment of audiences and artists of all ages.
July in January 2023
Festival of the Sound presents
Sounding Thunder: The Song of Francis Pegahmagabow
with libretto by Armand Garnet Ruffo
A musical journey into the life of the renowned Ojibwe WWI sniper and decorated officer of the Canadian military, Francis Pegahmagabow. Composed by Tim Corlis and written by Ojibwe poet Armand Garnet Ruffo, it is a complex work divided into three acts, exploring Pegahmagabow’s early years immersed in the world of the Anishinaabe spirits, his extraordinary accomplishments in the trenches of WWI, and finally his political life as Chief of the Wausauksing Ojibwe and founder of the early Indigenous political movement in Canada.
The Song of Francis Pegahmagabow
ACT I: FAITH
Scene i – Call to Action
Scene ii – Spiritual Encounter
Scene iii – Power
ACT II: WAR
Scene i – Enlisting
Scene ii – The Warrior
Scene iii – Wounded
ACT III: STRUGGLE AT HOME
Scene i – A Returned Hero
Scene ii – The Activist
Scene iii – The Good Fight
Timothy Corlis, composer
Armand Garnett Ruffo, librettist
Brian D. McInnes, narrator, cultural consultant
Jodi Baker Contin, singer, songwriter, actor
Keenan Keeshig, actor
Larry Beckwith, conductor, actor
Mark Fewer, violin
James Campbell, clarinet
Christian Sharpe, bassoon
Beverley Johnston, percussion
Rachel Thomas, trombone
Guy Few, trumpet
Joel Quarrington, double bass
Gabriel Cropley, stage and lighting designer
Jennifer Norton and Emile Surett, projection design
Alanis King, dramaturge
Sounding Thunder was one of the 200 exceptional projects funded in 2017-18 through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program.