The 18th National Youth Orchestra of Kenya (KNYO) residential training course was held at the beautiful and pristine St Andrew’s School, Turi between the 13th and 18th of December, 2017.

Before leaving for Turi, a non – residential training was held on the 11th of December at Hillcrest International School in Karen, where the members of the orchestra familiarised themselves with the music selected for the residential training. Simultaneously, there was the welcoming and orientation of the new members by the director, Levi Wataka.

As a member of the Art of Music Foundation, it was interesting to watch the workings of the KNYO from the sidelines. There was seamless order in following the schedules, and a silent yet strongly felt passion and dedication from each of the members.

The five days in Turi had the KNYO members stick to a tight schedule, with early mornings set aside for individual practice and later sectionals (where sections of the orchestra split and practice in smaller units), while the evenings, and some afternoons, had tutti sessions (where all sections play together). From attending a few sessions of tutti, “Jupiter”, from Gustav Holst’s The Planets, became a favorite.

On the fourth day, a Saturday afternoon, the sheets and instruments were set aside. It was time to get to know each other beyond the bows and blows. We split into groups, each with a task of taking group pictures that represent KNYO. The stretched creativity can be seen on Instagram, under the hashtag #knyores18.

The final day. The concert day. The Sunday had everyone excited and set for the afternoon gig. Clad in black, the members made their way to the Baden Powel Hall. The following two hours had the audience immersed in the beautiful music learnt during the residential. Towards the end, the orchestra, together with Timothy Arinaitwe and yours truly, performed Brian O. Kepher’s rendition of Malaika as farewell to Claire Gatakaa, a long-time employee of the Foundation.

The ride back to Nairobi on the next day was a contrast from what was a few days before. The earlier silence was replaced by erratic stories overlapping one another. Friendship borne from a shared passion for music.

The end of the 2017 Year concert will be held on the 28th of January, 2018, at the Kenya National Theatre from 3pm.


Article by June Wangari

Photos by Canaan Owuor

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