May 2012

A Musical Dream Comes True in the Congo

Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra in the CongoKimbanguist Symphony Orchestra in the Congo

Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra in the Congo
The Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra makes music in Kinshasa.

Life is not easy for many people in Kinshasa. Kinshasa is the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country in Central Africa. Many people of Kinshasa live in small, crowded homes. They are paid little money for the work that they do. But some people in the city are doing something they really enjoy. They are making music in the Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra (KSO). An orchestra is a group of musicians who play classical music.

Armand Diangienda started the KSO in 1994. He was an airplane pilot who dreamed of starting an orchestra. After he lost his job, he decided to follow his dream. At first, he did not know how to play or read music. He had to teach himself. Over time, he learned to play the piano, the cello, and other instruments. Diangienda then asked his friends to join his orchestra. Some of his friends learned to sing as a choir. Others learned to play instruments.

Few people outside of Kinshasa knew about the orchestra until two German filmmakers made a movie about it. The movie inspired musicians from Germany to visit Kinshasa. They taught music classes for orchestra members. Recently, the American television show 60 Minutes ran a story on the orchestra. Diangienda and the members of KSO are happy that more people are learning about them. They hope to get more help to build a music school in Kinshasa. A music school would allow more people in Kinshasa to learn the joy of making music.

Image credit: ©Junior D. Kannah/AFP/Getty Images

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Question 1
In what country is the Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra?

Question 2
What do the members of KSO want to build?

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