News Release

Music Fills the Air in Kinshasa!

Several hundred guests gathered to hear the melodic sounds of Kinshasa's own symphony orchestra at an LDS meetinghouse Friday evening

L'Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste, or Kimbanguiste Symphony Orchestra, is a Congolese orchestra based in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo and is under the direction of Maestro Armand Diangienda. It is the only orchestra known to reside in Central Africa and is the world's only all-black orchestra.

Olivier Tshimanga, DRC’s National Public Affairs Director for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been working for several months to coordinate the event held 19 December 2014. LDS Church members, along with members of the Kimbanguiste Church, and other community members joined together to celebrate the evening’s event. All three members of the Church’s Quorum of the Seventy serving Kinshasa were in attendance: Elder Jean-Pierre Lono, Elder Jean Claude Mabaya and Elder Alfred K. Kyungu. The venue for the night’s performance was the Kinshasa Stake Center (a multi-congregational meetinghouse) of the LDS Church. World media from BBC Africa and Swiss National Radio were there to cover the evening's event and will be highlighting the performance on their networks.

Conductor Armand Diangienda founded the orchestra in 1994 after losing his job as an airline pilot, naming it after his grandfather, religious leader Simon Kimbangu. At its conception, the group had only twelve amateur musicians that shared instruments and often used common materials as makeshift instrument parts. Over the past two decades, the group has grown to about 200 amateur musicians and performers, consisting of a full orchestra and choir.

It is remarkable to imagine an orchestra of this calibre being formed in one of the world's poorest cities and in a country torn apart by war. The group gained international attention in 2010 when German filmmakers created the documentary “Kinshasa Symphony” depicting the plight of the orchestra and its members in poverty-stricken Kinshasa. The inspirational orchestra has performed in California, Monaco, & in London’s Royal Festival Hall.

Members of the group travel many kilometres by car, taxi or on foot to rehearsals and performances. In an article in the UK’s “The Guardian”, Armand Diangienda was quoted as saying, “"They come because they're passionate about music. It gives them something more in terms of confidence, of feeling capable and of being able to contribute to a collective endeavour." The musicians' dedication and love of music is inspirational and was felt through every note of their performance Friday evening.

Selections for the concert included a moving number by Franz Schubert performed by the orchestra. The program also included artistic renditions of both classical and Congolese numbers, joined by the Kimbanguiste Choir and skilled vocal soloists. The large crowd was brought to their feet, as the final encore, “Hallelujah Chorus” by Handel was performed. The evening was a rousing success, including several standing ovations by the 500-person audience.

Brother Tshimanga is hoping to continue this partnership and make the performance an annual event. By the reaction of those in attendance, it would definitely be a highlight of the year for saints in Kinshasa, as well as the entire community.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.