Joy in the Congo: The Inspiring Story of the Only Symphony Orchestra in Central Africa

Did you know that the only sym­pho­ny orches­tra in Cen­tral Africa is locat­ed in Kin­shasa, the cap­i­tal of the Con­go — a war-torn coun­try plagued by pover­ty and despair? This short film (tran­script here) tells the amaz­ing sto­ry of the Sym­phon­ic Orches­tra Kim­ban­guiste (page in French), reveal­ing the dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances under which the 200 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 (trail­er). 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.

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