“Kinshasa Symphony” illuminates power of music in the Congo

Posted on: March 14, 2012

Last Wednesday (3/7) on the NPR blog Deceptive Cadence, Anastasia Tsioulcas writes, “An amazing new documentary film is a must-see not just for music lovers, but for anyone who needs to see the nourishing power of the arts and human connections. Kinshasa Symphony takes us into the everyday lives of the members of a most unlikely ensemble: the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste, located in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a place ravaged by war, endemic poverty and corruption. The constant hassles and logistical problems these amateur musicians face should give serious pause to those of us leading far more privileged lives in music. They tackle big pieces—like Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Orff’s Carmina Burana—out of sheer love, learning their instruments and craft as they go. Conductor Armand Diangienda founded the orchestra in 1994 after losing his job as an airline pilot. … When Diangienda first gathered 12 young people who wanted to learn to play the violin, he had only five instruments. … The joy they take in their music-making is what gets them through. As the orchestra’s concertmaster, Héritier Mayimbi Mbuangi says, ‘When we’re working on the music, there are no limits. It’s like a staircase: You go up, and up.’ ”

Posted March 14, 2012