Hidden Orchestra within the Congo

I originally saw this special on 60 minutes on Easter Sunday evening and I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes. I was flipping through the channels where I was immediately drawn to a special about the Democratic Republic of Congo. Not only was this my immediate appeal, but for the fact that it was based on a German documentary about a symphony orchestra. Personally I am a music fanatic and take delight in hearing music from all over the world. The TV special clearly brought to light that when many think of the Democratic Republic of Congo, they hear about civil war and the like. However this documentary warmed my heart in a way that I will soon not forget. The German Documenters were absolutely astonished that in the midst of all, an orchestra exists.


The Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste was created by an airline pilot named Armand Diangienda.  His shift to pursue music came about out of the ashes of the airplane crash of the plane he used to fly. And so the story goes that until these German documenters came, the orchestra had been existing and going strong for 17 years prior to their discovery.  The orchestra is located in the city of Kinshasa and currently has 200 active members. They interviewed one of the members who plays the violin and I was baffled to see that he travels 90 minutes on foot to the orchestra from his home. It amazed me also that it also seemed to be the case for many of them since virtually none of them have a car. To them, it is a journey and a joy to walk 90 minutes just to play music and to sing. Not to mention that they do it six days a week.  The Orchestra Symphonique Kimbanguiste takes place in a warehouse that comes alive with so many classical pieces. They even showed a concert they held where all 200 members were playing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in an amazing and flawless manner. Each musician was playing their instrument with such freedom and passion yet also with pure focus.


It was a treat to see something hidden discovered. In my opinion, it leaves me with no doubt that I as an American am very fortunate indeed. It humbles me that they would not let anything stop them from playing the music that in essence sets them free.  It was apparent on their faces and definitely in the way they played.


Article found on: cbsnews.com/60minutes

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