An Inspiring Story of the Only Symphony Orchestra in Central Africa
Did you know that the only symphony orchestra in Central Africa is located in the capital of the Congo – a war-torn country plagued by poverty and despair?
“Joy in the Congo” seems an unlikely title for a story from the Congo, considering the searing poverty and brutal civil war that have decimated that country. Yet in Kinshasa, the capital city, we heard about an unforgettable symphony orchestra — 200 singers and instrumentalists defying the poverty, hardship, and struggles of life in the world’s poorest country…and creating some of the most moving music we have ever heard. Follow Bob Simon to the Congo to hear the sounds and stories of the Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra.
This video tells the amazing story of the Symphonic Orchestra Kimbanguiste, revealing the difficult circumstances under which these musicians labor: they come from all over the city; most travel on foot to get to rehearsals six days a week; and the bulk of the instruments have been donated, salvaged and repaired or purchased from second-hand shops. Despite all of these difficulties, the orchestra manages to make the most beautiful music: listen to Johann Strauss’s The Blue Danube Waltz (An der schönen blauen Donau).
This is not the first documentary about this outstanding orchestra. In 2010, a team of German filmmakers released a 95-minute film called Kinshasa Symphony (see below). Also, Le Figaro has an arresting photo essay about the musicians.
By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.