Young Stars Shine at 7th Safaricom Youth Orchestra Graduation

Young Stars Shine at 7th Safaricom Youth Orchestra Graduation

“The moment I played it I think even the instrument became happy because it was not bored again. When I hear it from someone else playing or when I play it, it takes me to another world a world that is stress-free you can’t think of any other thing, but music only and when you think of music, you think of happiness,” Cyndicate Kabei, French Horn player.


Sunday afternoon, my house reverberated with melodies, from work from home, Colonel Bogey March”, a British march that was composed in 1914 by Lieutenant F. J. Ricketts (1881–1945), moon river to the 1812 overture (finale) by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

It was the seventh Safaricom Youth Orchestra graduation being marked virtually. A joy to 11 music students who were awarded certificates in orchestral music having learnt to play various instruments ranging from the Flute, Alto Sax, Trumpet and Violin.

Those who graduated include Rayana Wairimu, (18) Viola from Peopni School, Dennis Ngige (19) violinist from Our Lady of Fatima Secondary School, Mark Kogo (18) Cello player from Alliance High School, Simon Maweu, (20) oboist from Alliance High School, and Jamie Miguel (19) from M-pesa Foundation Academy also an oboist.

Others who graduated too are Cyndicate Kabei, (20) plays the French horn from St. Francis of Assisi School courtesy of the Ghetto Classics, Manuel Karanja (15) plays the trumpet from Oshwal Academy, Betty Mwende (22) also playing the trumpet comes Baba Dogo Secondary School via Ghetto Classics, Job Roberts (18) Starehe Boy’s Center,  Daniel Pamba (19) Pumwani Boys School a percussion player and Derrick Onyango (18) Cello player from Hekima High School. 

Those who followed the virtual event, from the tutors and music lovers, had expressed a sigh of relief that the younger generation, Safaricom Youth Orchestra, is taking a keen interest in orchestra music.

Levi Wataka, Deputy Music Director Safaricom Youth Orchestra on the Moon River, filled with nostalgia he says, “…Melodies like this smile when your heart is aching and their melody is like I did it my way and somehow, such powerful melodies always remind me of our founder Mr Bob Collymore who gave meaning to melodies he understood musical communication in a way that enlightened all of us all the time.”

Michelle Oguya, a violinist and the concertmaster for the graduating class of 2018 to the 2021 graduands, said, “Today I would like to talk to you about change. In everything there is change and while I was in the Safaricom, the different things that I witnessed were a passion.  Passion from the players and passion from the different tutors who and continuously encouraged us to strive hard and be our best.”

“That determination and grit was what took us further than we had ever imagined being and although that this opportunity might be closing for you, I’m well aware and very sure that you’ll engage in others in the future,” she encouraged them adding that

“So in the future when there is a change for you, it can feel as though you’re in a hurricane or a typhoon and in a hurricane, one thing many people do not know is that in the centre of the hurricane, the calmness of winds occur and that is a metaphor for your life as well. The centre is where our experiences converge and become one they are what grants you wisdom and experience over time that will allow you to make them in everything that you enter into so graduates remember who you are. Remember how far you have come.”

The discussions of the event were not only nostalgic but emphasized the need for producing new songs.

Cyndicate Kabei joined the Safaricom Youth Orchestra in 2018. She plays the French Horn Player and her dream is to pursue music as a career.

During her time at the SYO, apart from learning how to play the French horn, she has learnt how to write music, sing music and compose new songs. 

“I have realized that there is something that I love. There is a career that I must pursue and that is becoming a full-time classical musician so I want to go to the university and study classical music,” she says.

“I am happy to be graduating at SYO because I believe that more opportunities for studying music at an advanced level are coming. I want people in other parts of the world to hear the Kenyan music in classical music through me I believe that SYO has helped me achieve that.”

Daniel Pamba from the Percussion section joined SYO at the age of 12 years in standard 6. 

“I am proud to be a pioneer member of SYO and at the time of joining SYO, I did not know how to read or write music. I had some skills in playing the drums which were self-taught by playing my mother’s frying pans and I learned quite a lot it was a good opportunity to join SYO where I have been able to learn how to read and write music SYO has exposed me to national and international platforms,” he says.

For Mrs Wambui Collymore, being part of the people celebrating the graduation, “It reminds us of the beauty that we have of the things that we appreciate and we should continue to appreciate. It gives us an opportunity to express ourselves as Kenyans.”

Joe Ogutu, Chief Special Projects, Safaricom PLC, before, Covid-19, would enjoy listening to different sections as they practised at Kiyonga 

“Typically it would be a sort of a cacophony of different of discordant sounds and then, when the music director calls everyone to attention, all of a sudden this quiet and the silence and everybody is focusing to the instructions of what the music director will say and then the different discordant and noises now come together and bring that fusion of music that was so much with so much enjoy,” Joe Ogutu, Chief.

“We are living in unprecedented times, but despite current challenges, you have all been resilient and adapted to our new reality. We are truly proud of your hard work and perseverance.”

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Themed ‘nurturing a generation of new leaders’, Mr Peter Ndegwa, chief executive officer Safaricom, says it is a ‘period for reflection’ as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that has changed the way things used to be done.

 “Explore all the possible passions and interests that you might have do not leave anything to chance. you’ll never know if you can do it if you do not try great things come to those who try your 20s are the highlights or will be the highlights of your life experiment learn life but more importantly enjoy them to the fullest,” Ndegwa encouraged the graduands.

In addition, he disclosed that Safaricom will continue being involved and supporting the SYO. “You can count on me to continue to be a great ambassador of this great initiative,” Mr Ndegwa emphasised.

Make Music, build Bridges, Rise others

Mr William (Bill) Rowe, a trumpet tutor since the beginning of 2015 besides applauding the tutors ‘for creativity, passion and commitment in their skills to make “ such a tremendous difference’, to the graduates, his clarion call was for them to continue making music.

“Keep on making music now that you have come this far don’t stop regardless of whether you become lawyers whether you become doctors or engineers continue making music.

Second, build up others as we have invested in your life now. Go and invest in the lives of others. So, continue to carry on what you have been taught. Share it with others. Build up others. So keep on making music to build up others.

Finally, build bridges. One of the things that we have seen in SYO is the fact that it is a very diverse group and I think that is a beautiful thing because there’s something about music that brings us all together.  So I would say, seek to find ways of bringing people together with music, build bridges. It has been an amazing year and I would say keep on making music and we’re looking forward to the great things that you guys can accomplish in the future.”