There is music in the Congo, and I don’t mean drum circles and chants. In a country torn apart by war, a symphony orchestra plays Beethoven’s and other classical composers’ works. And yes, they are amazing.
The Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste, Africa’s only symphony orchestra, is comprised of over 200 musicians and singers. All of them live in shanties within the poverty-stricken capital of Congo.
The real story here is the story of the orchestra’s conductor, Armand Diangienda. After his former employer went out of business, Diangienda decided to start a symphony. With no instruments, no teachers and little hope, he pressed on. At first he was met with ridicule, but slowly more and more people started showing interest.
Diangienda’s major breakthrough happened when a pair of German filmmakers came to Congo and filmed the orchestra. The film was then shown in Germany. Shortly after that, he began to receive donations in the form of new instruments and music teachers with offers to train.
The most amazing thing about this endeavor was the joy and happiness it brought the people in the orchestra. In a place where most people struggle to survive, this group of 200 individuals defied everyone’s expectations.
To me, the moral is this: Don’t be afraid to make a change. I believe everyone has the capacity to create a thing or idea that can change the world. Diangienda rose to the occasion and created joy in a rented-out warehouse. While the music may be fleeting, the joy will be with all the orchestra and those in attendance.
To high school seniors: The world is truly in front of you. In a way, you are all Armand Diangienda. You’re leaving what you know and starting a new path. As you begin your college career, remember to be like Armand Diangienda. Create something from nothing, make joy when all around you is struggle and never let anyone tell you can’t when you know you can.
Congratulations, seniors. Now go change the world.
Music has a powerful impact. In his blog, Tyler Babcock tells us what the recent concert at Gannon means to him.