BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Landmarks Orchestra began its’ season of free concerts at the Hatch Shell with the music of Aaron Copland and a unique tribute to an international star.

A maestro from the Congo received a first-of-its-kind award for dedicating his life to the unifying power of music.

Thousands of miles away, in the capital of war-torn Congo, Maestro Armand Diangienda established the Kimbanguiste Symphony Orchestra – the only symphony in central Africa, and the only all-black symphony in the world.

Wednesday night on Boston’s Esplanade, Diangienda received the first-ever Charles Ansbacher Music For All Award from the Free For All Concert Fund.

Maestro Armand’s story and the story of his all-volunteer orchestra shows a level of perseverance most of us could never attain.

A commercial pilot until his airline went out of business twenty years ago, Armand decided to turn to music. He taught himself to read music and play piano, trombone, guitar, and cello. Using donated and scavenged instruments, the players and singers came. Some walked for two hours just to get to rehearsals.

“Armand was able to see possibility. He was able to take the ingredients that were just around him and create something new with a vision,” said former Ambassador Swanee Hunt, who presented the award.

He had the vision, he has the charisma and he has the stubbornness to make it happen.

“First of all, it’s a message of love and a message of harmony,” Diangienda said through an interpreter. “Music is in my blood. So whatever I do I give myself a hundred percent to the service of the artist so that they can learn through the music and they can get something and be at peace with themselves.”

The award Maestro Armand received recognizes that he and his orchestra are bringing hope and peace to a land with very little of either.

If you would like to see the original 60 Minutes story, click here


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