In a scene from 'Chaakapesh,' MSO Maestro Kent Nagano watches two Inuit artists perform a throat-singing duet. (Fragments Distribution)

A whole different kind of musical tour: the film

It opens in cinemas on Friday.

What it seeks to share goes back centuries.

It’s called Chaakapesh and if ever a film combined big-time talent with a generous helping of soul, it’s this one.

Here’s the trailer.

The film is about a lot of things, not the least of which is the story of how Maestro Kent Nagano led his Montreal Symphony Orchestra on a tour of Quebec’s Great North to visit Cree, Innu and Inuit communities.

Their stated aim: “To share an Indigenous chamber opera whose mission is to teach white men how to laugh, and therefore love more.”

This story begins in the spring of 2018 when Nagano and his MSO announce their plan to tour the chamber opera Chaakapesh: The Trickster’s Quest, the story of the hero who founded the Innu people.

It’s a collaboration between the composer Matthew Ricketts and the Cree playwright and librettist Tomson Highway that tells the story of a trickster caught in the belly of a whale.

Tomson Highway, who imagined and wrote ‘Chaakapesh: the Trikster’s Quest,’ which lies at the heart Roger Frappier and Justin Kingsley’s new film. (Facebook)

After rehearsals,and opening it in Montreal,Nagano and the MSO headed to the North.

We get to watch what happens–in a film narrated in three languages of the North (Innu, Cree and Inuit) by Florent Vollant, Ernest Webb and Akinisie Sivuarapik, as well as in French and English.

At each stop of the tour, a local Indigenous artist joined the orchestra on stage to perform during a show within the show. 

Lest anyone thinks making a film like this is easy, think again.

It is co-written, co-directed and produced by Roger Frappier, who has done nothing but win awards in all phases of show business over the past 50 years.

Roger Frappier has been an award-winning producer, director, editor, actor, and screenwriter for over 50 years. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

His co-writer and co-director is Justin Kingsley, a man I encountered many, many years ago when we were both starting out in radio.

Kingsley is one of those high-energy beings who just gets things done.

He did back then, and he’s still doing it now.

Justin Kingsley, along with Roger Frappier, is very much responsible for documenting Kent Nagano’s MSO tour. (speakers. ca)

I spoke by phone with him today.

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