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Witness

Kinshasa Symphony

A remarkable orchestra plays heroically despite its musicians' daily struggle for mere survival.

Last Modified: 10 Oct 2013 14:55
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For fifteen years the Kinshasa Symphony Orchestra in DR Congo has continued to play despite two coups, war, and exasperating power cuts.

Being Central Africa’s only symphony orchestra, it is an inspiration to all those who join it and go to their concerts. The musicians and singers are ordinary working people passionate about classical music who leave their day jobs to rush to rehearsals.

They battle dust in their throats, electricity cuts and the competing noise of local bars. They build instruments when they have none of their own, and improvise when even that proves impossible. They struggle to make ends meet but their passion for music lifts them out of the hardships of daily life.

This uplifting film follows several determined characters whose lives have been transformed by the orchestra.

Filmmakers' views

Filmmaker: Claus Wischmann

Three years ago, when I heard of this extraordinary orchestra for the first time, I could hardly believe that it existed. The musicians partly construct their instruments themselves and perform Mozart and Verdi in public places in Kinshasa in front of thousands of people.

They interpret Carmina Burana as if their own lives were at stake - every note expressing an exclamation mark of the will to survive. I felt that nothing could be more different from the reality of subsidised classical music in the West.

Filmmaker: Martin Baer

Observing people doing something with all their passion is the kind of subject that appeals to me in the field of documentary film and cinematography. This is what the musicians of the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste do. They do things we would never have dreamed of. They know that they cannot achieve everything they have aimed to do but they are determined to try anyway.

Producer: Stefan Pannen

Sometimes you have films which are just different; because they tell us about the unexpected; because they show people and stories that touch you in a very special way; because they find images which do both, they surprise us and they focus on what the film wants to make a statement about.

Kinshasa Symphony is such a film, and I am grateful that we were able to produce it.

Producer: Holger Preuße

From the beginning, the most exciting thing about this documentary project was the chance to show DR Congo and Kinshasa from a different perspective. The directors did not want to tell a story about poverty and illness, about hunger and violence, but equally they did not want to hide this reality.

In my view the film has mastered this balancing act remarkably well. The film allows us to witness the hope and joy of the people, their desires and day-to-day worries, their power and determination without letting us forget the sad side of their lives in Kinshasa.

The film invites us to share the fate of these people, and I am very glad that we took the risk to pave the way for this film.

Kinshasa Symphony can be seen from Wednesday, October 09, at the following times GMT: Wednesday: 2000; Thursday: 1200; Friday: 0100; Saturday: 0600; Sunday: 2000; Monday: 1200; Tuesday: 0100. 

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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