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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