Two hundred orchestral musicians are playing Beethoven's Ninth 'Freude schoener
Goetterfunken'. 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 keeps 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.
When we made it to Kinshasa with a crew of 7 people, we had no idea what was in store for us. The sounds of the orchestra left us all speechless and what was all the more moving were the individual stories behind those incredible faces. To see commitment at that level is not something that can be explained.
Of the 200 members of the orchestra and choir, only two have cars. Kinshasa, where the orchestra is based, is a huge city with a population of ten million. The musicians come from all over the city and for the most part travel on foot to get there - six days a week!
Armand's place serves as a makeshift conservatory and it feels like a mini-Juilliard in the heart of Africa. It's also an oasis from the trials and tribulations most of these musicians face on a daily basis. There is never a start time to rehearse because people trickle in throughout the day and they spend hours losing themselves in music. When we would wrap up a day of shooting by 9 or 10 p.m., there were still musicians working.
I hope that with this story, the orchestra will get what it deserves and frankly needs: a proper school in order for the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste to grow and show the world that there is more to the DRC than violence. These are good citizens, wanting to do the right thing and enjoy all the things that perhaps we take for granted in the West. One can't help but want the best for them. They are simply incredible. --60 Minutes, 'Joy in the Congo,' Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson
An amazing new documentary film is a must-see not just for music lovers, but for anyone who needs to see the nourishing power of the arts and human connections.
Kinshasa Symphony takes us into the everyday lives of the members of a most unlikely ensemble: the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste, located in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a place ravaged by war, endemic poverty and corruption.
The constant hassles and logistical problems these amateur musicians face should give serious pause to those of us leading far more privileged lives in music. They tackle big pieces like Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Orff's Carmina Burana out of sheer love, learning their instruments and craft as they go. --NPR, Deceptive Cadence, by ANASTASIA TSIOULCAS
'Kinshasa Symphony, a documentary film about the only symphony orchestra in central Africa, shows that the need for music and artistic expression transcends chaos and adversity Filmmakers Claus Wischmann and Martin Baer tell the inspirational story of the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste, a musical ensemble founded 15 years ago by self-trained conductor Armand Diangienda who named the group after his grandfather, Simon Kimbangu, a revered Congolese martyr who opposed the Belgian colonists The film depicts the discipline and enthusiasm of the orchestra's members, many of whom must struggle for survival on a daily basis in the harsh surroundings of Kinshasa, a city of eight million inhabitants who are among the poorest in the world.' --Robert Rowat, March 8, 2012