The Lifesaver!

Our workshop is long and intense. We talk about sound production, techniques, tonal colors, musical expressions, and interpretation of each piece. So naturally, there is A LOT of talking. Now this "talking" part has been always the greatest challenge, as my French and Lingala (the common language spoken in Kinshasa) are incredibly weak and their English is not too strong either. I've been lucky enough to have some interpreters that spoke English fairly well (1000 times better than my French / Lingala), but as they improved and the nature of the workshop got deeper, it was becoming trickier.

On the 3rd day, we finished with the workshop, then finished the orchestra rehearsal. After nearly 10 hours of music, I was somewhat tired. I said goodbye to Papa Armand (the founder & the conductor) and rushing towards the gate to look for my driver. Then all of a sudden I heard, "Hi. Let me walk you out so that you can safely meet your driver."

I froze. -- ENGLISH! Fluent, perfect ENGLISH! I turned around and said, "Thank you... Wait.... What? Who are you?? Where did you appear from???" The gentleman smiled and introduced himself to me. (He still laughs about how confused I looked!)

His name is Yan Pholo. He used to be a violinist in the orchestra, but spent the last 10 years in South Africa. Came back to Kinshasa 4 months ago and now he does media / promotion for the orchestra. "YEEEESSSS!" I was jumping up and down on the inside! Maybe, just maybe, he could be able to help me???

Next day, I contacted Papa Armand and got Yan's phone number. I called him, explained the situation and asked him if he could possibly come help me once or twice if/when he has the time. He said "I own my own design company, so I can be flexible. I will move some stuff around and I will be happy to help you." Hurray!!!!!!!!!!

From the next day, He came to the workshop everyday until the very last day. His assistance instantly made the workshop a million times more effective! The thing is, not only was he perfect in both English and French/Lingala, he understood the art of interpreting - the speed, sensing the atmosphere / the individual characters and interpret accordingly... He was spot on. Plus he is a community member so everyone felt comfortable around him. All that made the entire workshop so much more energetic. We can now have proper discussions without simplifying anything, I can explain in much deeper levels, they can ask questions freely, and we can even make jokes and laugh together!

All the musicians and I bonded much more on this trip and they improved much - much further. And Yan the Life Saver played a gigantic role in it!

Oh, and also, all the great photos from this workshop were also taken by Yan! He was often holding a camera while translating and capturing the best moments! :D

Thank you SO MUCH for your help, Yan! Both the musicians and I literally couldn't have shared so much without you. Cannot be more thankful for your kindness, talent and generosity! And Please - please come help us again next time! :)

- Kaori

Photo taken after the concert at the Japanese Ambassador's residence. Even there, the embassy staff were like, "He is a professional interpreter, right?"

Photo taken after the concert at the Japanese Ambassador's residence. Even there, the embassy staff were like, "He is a professional interpreter, right?"