Kinshasa on My Mind

On June 21st at 9pm, after 24 hour journey, I found myself in DR Congo again for the 3rd time. My well-connected Congolese friend and a super driver Emmanuel welcomed me at the baggage hall, no hasslers came our way (Thank you Emmanuel!), retrieved all the suitcases without any problem, and driven into the vibrant city of Kinshasa. And that was the beginning of non-stop, exhausting, but most of all, the most rewarding 2 weeks.

Started working with the musicians from the next morning, and I managed to spend over 80 hours with them in our 11 day workshop without any unexpected interruptions (like lockdowns, which happens fairly often). They all sounded noticeably better since the last time in December. It was amazing to realize that they all took everything they learned from the last time and carried on with them for 6 months without ever taking them for granted.

We worked on new fundamental techniques which include sound production and finger techniques that are connected to proper understanding and usage of our bodies. We also talked about ways to find out certain characters that are called for by different pieces and/or composers. All of which would ultimately enable them to be more free and flexible in their music making as well as in teaching.

They all are experienced musicians and teachers with great love and passion towards music. All they need is a little bit of fundamental training that they never had the access to. They all are committed and dedicated with incredible strength and attention span, and I feel very lucky to be able to work with them!

On more personal note, I feel very grateful for everyone to treat me like a family. I got to know them even more this time (hugely because of the best translator I met this time! Will write more about him sometime soon), and that made our workshops develop further and my trip much much more fun.

Overall, I believe this trip was a big step. First of all, The Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra and Music Beyond have officially decided to collaborate in order to help their woodwind musicians in their growth both as musicians and teachers for the next two years! I am determined to go back as much as I can to assist them in any way I can!

Everyone improved much-MUCH further this time, everyone bonded more, and somehow I felt safer. And to my surprise, towards the end, I started developing an undeniably warm sense of "Home" in this city that is so strange and mysterious in many ways. None of this could have happened without wonderful musicians and friends in Kinshasa. Papa Armand, Seth, Samy, Nathalie, Guy, Guylly, Josephine, Diego, Jacques, Junior, Doble, Jose, Johnny, Jerry, Honoré, Yan, Eddy, Emmanuel, Julio, Kimiko, Kazuya & everyone at the Japanese embassy, Tom, Lizz, Ian, Kevin, Marylene, and everyone who welcomed me with open arms....... THANK YOU, MERCI BEAUCOUP, BOTONDI MINGI!


- Kaori