Kinshasa Symphony

A Documentary by Claus Wischmann and Martin Baer

Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the third largest city in Africa. Almost ten million people live here and they number among the poorest inhabitants on this planet. Kinshasa is the home of Central Africa’s one and only symphony orchestra.

Two hundred orchestral musicians are playing Beethoven’s Ninth –Freude schöner Götterfunken. A power cut strikes just a few bars before the last movement. Problems like this are the least of the worries facing the only symphony orchestra in the Congo. In the 15 years of its existence, the musicians have survived two putsches, various crises and a war. But concentration on the music and hopes for a better future keep them going. Kinshasa Symphony is a study of people in one of the world’s most chaotic cities doing their best to maintain one of the most complex systems of joint human endeavour: a symphony orchestra. The film is about the Congo, the people in Kinshasa and the power of music.

The Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanquiste was founded fifteen years ago by conductor/composer/cellist Armand Diangienda. He is the grandson of Simon Kimbangu, a martyr greatly revered in the Congo for opposing the Belgian colonists and establishing his own church: the Kimbanguists.

Initially the OSK began with several dozen music loving amateurs sharing a few available instruments. They rehearsed in shifts so that everyone could have a turn. Today when the OSK gives a concert there are over 200 musicians on the stage – most of them self-taught. Though many of them struggle to survive, work from dawn to dark and sometimes walk miles to reach their workplaces, they attend daily rehearsals that stretch long into the night.

Read more about this amazing project on the Kinshasa Symphony website.

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