After a rousing London debut at Southbank Centre in 2014, the Kinshasa Symphony orchestra and choir went on tour, starting in Bristol and Manchester.
The story of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Orchestre Symphonique de Kimbanguiste orchestra and choir is miraculous and uplifting. Against the most extraordinary odds, in a country known for its extreme poverty and violence, conductor Armand Diagienda proved that music can provide hope and inspiration.
Despite difficult circumstances, these talented, self-taught musicians and their conductor brought a message of peace and hope. Their inspiring story has been an international sensation and was celebrated in a specially commissioned BBC documentary.
For their London concert at Southbank Centre as part of our Africa Utopia Festival, and beyond into a tour of the UK, the orchestra’s concert programmes mixed European and Congolese music to give audiences a flavour of their distinctive style.
Works included Jean Sibelius’s Finlandia, Congolese choral and orchestral works, Hector Berlioz’s ‘March to the scaffold’ (4th movement) from Symphonie Fantastique and Ludwig Van Beethoven’s ‘Presto – Allegro assai (4th movement) from Symphony No.9 (Choral).
By bringing these musicians, singers and their stories to an audience across England the tour celebrated the power of music to transcend political, social and economic barriers and transform lives.
The orchestra's visit to the UK was a partnership between the Halle Orchestra, Southbank Centre, Bristol Music Trust and the BBC, and was made possible with the special support from Arts Council England through its Exceptional Awards programme.