Kinshasa Orchestra

My mom told me about this segment she watched on 60 Minutes shortly after we moved to Congo, but our poor internet connection over there never let me check it out. Last week at a sushi bar here in Arizona, a new acquaintance mentioned she saw it too. So I finally looked it up.

I had no idea that the only symphony orchestra in Central Africa could be found right here in our host country. (One more reason to get up to Kinshasa soon, Seb!) Kinshasa is the capital of the DRC, one of the largest and fastest-growing cities on the continent, despite having zero infrastructure to support such a population. I remember reading about the rich musical history of Congo in Michela Wrong’s excellent book “In The Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz,” including the sad photo of what she called “one of the last grand pianos in the city” at the declining National Conservatory of Music — a piano missing its third leg, propped up on a chair.

Watching this video gave me goosebumps. Many of the beautiful faces look familiar, the city scenes too, despite never having been there. Yet.

Check out the 60 minutes episode here.

Or watch a shorter BBC version here.

Neither video made mention of the documentary being made about the same orchestra. Click here to watch the trailer. If it interests you, you can also order a DVD of the full documentary from Amazon. Mine is on its way. 🙂

5 comments

  1. Kinshasa the only 7,000,000 souls city with sewer for only 60,000, no power or water and bandits gang roaming the street every night. Really high on my list for visit!

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  2. Thanks for sharing this, Jen, my dad had told me about it too and I never saw it so it was great to finally see it. i just ordered the video – what an inspiration. Interesting that the BBC highlighted the Kimbangists and their importance in inspiring the orchestra and it’s leader (grandson of Simon Kimbangu!?). 60 Minutes completely avoided the subject.

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    1. Ah! I must watch it again, I must say I didn’t notice. I do remember thinking the BBC version was somehow “better” than the other (even though it was shorter). Something I couldn’t put my finger on, like the pictures or sounds or something.

      Glad you enjoyed it!

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    2. Hi Lauren, how did you like the video? I watched it with Seb, my Mom and stepdad in Florida and we all loved it! Very inspirational. Funny that the documentary (made by the Germans) showed nothing about themselves at all, like 60 minutes emphasized.

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