Building An Orchestra From Scratch
In America, when your child comes home and says “I want to play an instrument,” it usually means buying a student version or, if you’re lucky, playing one provided by the school.
What if you and your child had to build whatever instrument they wanted to play? Â There would probably be a lot of percussionists shaking popcorn kernels between two paper plates.
Armand Diangienda lost his job as a pilot in the Congolese capital Kinshasa when, while he was on holiday, the Fokker F-27 he normally piloted crashed. Â When he decided to form an orchestra in the aftermath, his friends could be excused for thinking he was a bit crazy. Â One of the big problems was, he couldn’t read music. Â Even that didn’t stop him.
While there were some instruments and musicians available, Diangienda’s father headed up a popular local church which had a brass band, flute orchestra, and a guitar ensemble, they were still missing many instruments. Â They borrowed what instruments they could, and “reverse-engineered the others,” building violins and double-basses from the ground up.
Diangienda says many African rhythms can be found in Beethoven’s music, which compelled him to undertake an even larger task, putting together a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, a portion of which you can hear in the video above.
We take so much of what we have for granted. Â How much would we be willing to do to have an orchestra? Â Buy an instrument for our youngster? Â Build one? Â During these uncertain times in the Arts and Culture, these are important questions to ask.
Read more: The scratch orchestra of Kinshasa (The Guardian)