The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music is happening in Africa too. | March 11, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

What about Africa?

We hear a lot about classical music these days.

But the news and other stories usually comes from North America and South America, from Europe and Asia.

We even hear about classical music in the Middle East, especially about the joint Israeli-Palestinian East-West Divan Orchestra (below) founded by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said.

But we don’t ever hear much about classical music in Africa, which is more in the headlines these days for war and conflict, brutality and corruption.

And that strikes The Ear as too bad, as regrettable, even as reprehensible.

That silence about positive cultural life just ends up adding to the mythical and stereotypical “darkness” of the Dark Continent.

But it turns out that something important from a classical music point of view has indeed happened and is still happening in Africa.

Take a look at the story about the Kinshasa Symphony Orchestra (below), now almost 20 years old, in the Democratic Republic of Congo in excerpts from a 2010 German-made documentary called “Kinshasa Symphony’ about the classical orchestra founded in Central Africa:

And here is a link to a review of the documentary, with the inevitable tie-in to Beethoven and his Ninth Symphony:

I sure hope the film comes to my area soon, perhaps in the upcoming Wisconsin Film Festival, or perhaps to the University of Wisconsin Madison campus.

I’ll let you know if I find out more news and features about classical music in Africa, and you please do the same for me.


  1. Amazing. Yes, let’s try to get this film to Madison. It’s a hymn to human spirit and ingenuity.

    Comment by janice golay — March 11, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

    • Hi Janice,
      I agree completely.
      I haven’t yet seen the selection of this year’s Wisconsin Film Festival in April.
      But last year they had a couple of music movies including “Pianomania.”
      So it does seem like a natural fit.
      Plus the UW has a terrific African Studies program and a great School of Music.
      Put them together and voila! — a natural set of sponsors for this film.
      Thank you for writing and replying.

      Comment by welltemperedear — March 13, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

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