The music plays on

A portrait of a Congolese symphony orchestra

The news coming out of the Democratic Republic of Congo is almost relentlessly bad. Roughly five million Congolese people have perished in the nearly 12 years of ongoing fighting across the country. (Need to Know has covered this crisis in the Congo on several occasions, in addition to exploring the United States’ own complicity in what’s happening there.)

But it’s important to remember that even in the midst of unimaginable horror, people can — and do — flourish. As part of our ongoing collaboration with the VII Photo Agency, we bring you photographer Marcus Bleasdale’s portrait of one remarkable symphony orchestra that’s thriving in Congo’s capital city, Kinshasa.

Before coming across the Kimbaungist Symphony Orchestra in 2008, Bleasdale had spent nearly a decade documenting the rapes, murders and dislocation that have gone on virtually unchecked across Congo’s countryside. His work from Congo has been published in many newspapers and magazines, as well as two books.

A wonderful documentary about the Kimbaungist Symphony Orchestra, aptly called “Kinshasa Symphony,” has just been released. For more information about the film, visit the website.

This video was first published on the Need to Know website on April 28, 2011.

 
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Comments

  • Mscen221

    Thank you for such an inspiring story!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Cocoanto/1198396510 Paul Cocoanto

    The Music must beat on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=592385883 Lee Silvan

    With so little inspiring daily news about the nobility of humans, it is just wonderful, therapeutic even, to discover the existence of a music ensemble such as this. For every citizen holding a musical instrument, that is one fewer holding a weapon. Music and art can still save humanity from itself!

  • Senait Asfaw

    There is a will that leads people to do good no matter what.   The story of the Congolese Symphony Orchestra is the manifestation of the power of good over evil.  I couldn’t help but have teary eyes and a moment of inspiration when I saw the musician carving his own instrument.  Hope is alive.

  • Senait Asfaw

    There is a will that leads people to do good no matter what.   The story of the Congolese Symphony Orchestra is the manifestation of the power of good over evil.  I couldn’t help but have teary eyes and a moment of inspiration when I saw the musician carving his own instrument.  Hope is alive.

  • Optimistnyc

    This absolutely magnificent segment was not only an inspiring account of the joy Kinshasa residents are finding in forming an orchestra using instruments they have hand built but also a gallery of truly rich portraits and scenes from Marcus Bleasdale, who seems to be the finest travel/social photo journalist in the business. Look at those expressions – he conjures up souls as well as faces and suggests that the Congolese are potentially one of the great societies of the world, if only it could get rid of its spoilers of hatred and violence.