If you caught 60 Minutes Sunday night, you were in for a treat. At the end of the show, the broadcast profiled the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the only symphony in Central Africa and the only all-black orchestra in the world.
Led by Armand Diangienda, the orchestra’s founder and conductor, the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste is made up of over 200 musicians that come from all over Kinshasa. Despite wars, abject poverty, and crisis after crisis, the orchestra has provided a refuge for its musicians for the last 15 years.
Diangienda credits his grandfather, Simon Kimbangu–a prominent martyr in the Congo for his fight against Belgian colonists–for inspiring him to start an orchestra, and despite having to share instruments and run the group out of his house, Diangienda has managed to plant the seeds that have inspired scores of people.
A few years ago, German filmmakers made Kinshasa Symphony, a film about the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste sharing the symphony’s story with a European audience, and now 60 Minutes has shared their story with those of us in the U.S.
Seeing the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste enjoy music so much that many of their members walk for miles and overcome immense odds just to do what they love should inspire us all to pursue our dreams.
Watch the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste perform “Handel’s Messiah.”