The Safaricom Youth Orchestra now in its 6th year, has been providing music education and performance opportunities to young talented musicians in Nairobi for over 5 years.
The Late Bob Collymore launched the Safaricom Youth Orchestra in 2014, bringing together 70 Children aged between 10 and 18 years from different backgrounds. All of them are gifted, passionate and committed to their musical journey.
The Safaricom Youth Orchestra accepts diverse musicians each year through merit-based auditions; “Students are accepted based on their drive and potential and honing their musical instrument.”, says Levi Wataka, Deputy Music Director SYO. “Safaricom Youth Orchestra strives to be an inclusive one that reflects the diversity of the Kenya”.
Members of this program rehearse every Saturday under the tutelage of professional coaches, with the season culminating in public performances in renowned festivals such as Safaricom Jazz Festival fete, Groove Awards and Safaricom 15 and Safaricom at 18 celebrations.
Beyond the music, the ensemble is about friendship, fun and the universal power of music to unite mankind. For as they play together, the children are one and all their differences are forgotten. – Safaricom Youth Orchestra
In addition to first-class music tutelage opportunities, SYO believes that a sense of community is equally important for budding artist. For students such as Jayson, a 14-year-old Flautist, being his first time in Africa, he has come to appreciate the experience and the diversity at Safaricom Youth Orchestra. “I always preferred playing alone and I was a bit reluctant to play with people, SYO has shown me the magic of playing together in harmony and most of all socializing with people from various backgrounds.”
Percussion tutor, Grace Muriithi views each student as a musical citizen, she has no favorites’ and hopes with each student who passes through the SYO program, will hopefully, carry their youth orchestra experience into adulthood, regardless of whether or not they become music professionals.
Safaricom Youth Orchestra 5 Year Highlights
It was the first time at their rehearsal space. I am at the ‘Tutti’ session and Mr. Levi Wataka is going through some music pieces, “Today, we want to focus on three key things, rests, articulation and long notes”.
Hearing the orchestra play some of the music’s key themes and motifs in isolation is a boon to appreciation, whether you know the music well or have never heard it before
For Levi Wataka, he views his experience with SYO as ‘a big stage experience’ and one of his greatest joys to tutor the kids. He has for the last five years seen growth, and experienced some memorable highlights such as the Safaricom at 18 celebrations, where they got to have the “largest Orchestra put together in this part of Africa with 160 players on stage”.
Levi Wataka reiterated the two-fold purpose of the organization: “To give young music students the breadth of experience that is both enjoyable and inspirational, but also encourage them to become emboldened music lovers who will then bring their personal experience into their daily lives and beyond.”
I look forward to SYO concerts, for the warm sound of the instruments and the musicians’ great collaborative skill. Conductor Levi Wataka revealing and amusing explanations and demonstrations of outstanding aspects of the music are also, a big draw.
The Safaricom Youth Orchestra continues to nurture young musicians. But more than that, it engenders a new group of young people each year who will carry the meaning and power of good orchestral music.
All image Credits Courtesy of – Tek Productions 🙂