One of Music Beyond's Board members, Thomas Yocum (Kinshasa-based freelance Journalist and frequent contributor to The Guardian), sat down with the founder and conductor of the Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra, Armand Diangienda at his home in Kinshasa to ask him about the orchestra and his impressions of Music Beyond. 


Music Beyond’s latest series of workshops with members of the Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra, which included both one-to-one and group sessions, will help boost both the individual skills of the musicians and the performance level of the entire group, says Armand Diangienda, the orchestra’s founder and conductor.

Diangienda, who established the group in 1994 with a small number of self-taught musicians and an even smaller number of musical instruments, says the orchestra members are delighted to welcome Nana and Kaori back for their second visit of 2014.

“The musicians are really happy to be here and to be working with Nana and Kaori,” Diangienda explains. “They’re happy to be here because they know they will progress. This is really helping them and they really understand this.”

Diangienda says that the orchestra’s latest foreign tour of four UK cities in September 2014 with 100 of its members has left a lasting impression on his group, and made them hungry to learn more.

“Now they know,” he says. “They’ve seen the good things, perfect things. So while many of them are already playing in the orchestra, they want to work with Nana and Kaori just to try to practice, to try to bring their level up. And I’m really happy for that. Because they understand, now they understand that we must try to work hard to get to a higher level.”

A French music school tried to establish similar a teaching program about five years ago, but had to stop due to money problems, Diangienda explains. He says Music Beyond’s approach is simpler and more streamlined. 

“I’m really happy to have Nana and Kaori helping because they try to organize it all, by themselves,” he says. “To do something like this, you need money. Not for us, but for them, because they have to travel. They have find the plane tickets, they have to find insurance, they need also to find a place to stay, food, all these things. But for Nana and Kaori, I don’t have to worry about this, because they have already organized this before they arrive. So for me, I say, ‘OK, what can I do for them?’ And even if I can find food for them, just give them something to eat while they are here teaching, then it is a good way for me to say ‘Thank you, Nana and Kaori.’”