The Kimbanguist Symphony Orchestra (a.k.a OSK) was scheduled to play a concert on Thursday. On Tuesday afternoon, I was asked to play the second oboe on flute. Of course I gladly accepted it!
On Wednesday, after 7 hours of workshop, I joined in their rehearsal. The founder & conductor Papa Armand told me that they had recently lost their usual rehearsal space (which was a warehouse) and they now only have their parking lot to practice with the entire orchestra. It was a hot night, the electricity kept going out, and there were one million mosquitoes flying around. But nobody was complaining. They all seemed to be genuinely happy to be there to make music, and proud to be a part of it. Whenever the electricity went out, anyone who were not playing in that moment shined a flash light to help each other so that we all can read the music. Eventually, the lights came back on, and everyone went back on playing. The lights went out again, someone shined a flash light until the lights were back on... This happened at least 5 times.
Joining in their rehearsal made me realize that one can make beautiful music regardless of the condition, IF we have strong enough passion and love for it! (And I promised myself not to complain ever again when the AC is not working as well as I want it to be while practicing in my mosquito-free, well-lit, comfortable apartment in NYC!)
The rehearsal went on for over two hours, and I was severely attacked by mosquitoes.. I smeared myself with a mosquito repellant every morning while in Kinshasa, but it wear out by the evening. As I was busy scratching myself, it dawned on me that I was the only one who seemed to be struggling! Everyone else was completely calm! So I asked one of the members, "Hey, don't you guys get bitten by mosquitoes???" They all cracked up and told me that they are so used to it, they actually don't feel it anymore! Now that was a big discovery for me! They all kept laughing at me for struggling, and told me to "Just calm your mind, and it will go away." So I tried..... Very hard........ But I just couldn't! Oh well, I guess I will have to remember to bring my mosquito repellant everywhere I go in the future!
The concert on the next day was a HUGE success! So many people came, (Probably close to 1000 people!) and they all cheered like crazy. It was more like a rock concert! It was so nice to see more and more Congolese seems to be interested in the orchestra and classical music is becoming a little more approachable to the general public.
I was very happy to be able to be a part of the orchestra! Thank you and Congratulations on a great concert OSK!