The Injyana ensembles, bringing symphony orchestra to life

Adapted from the Kinyarwanda language, the word injyana means ‘the motion of the music’. True to the notion, the ensemble’s goal is to bring orchestra music back to life. Veteran music instrumentalists shared their experiences of the Injyana musical pieces.
Ndahiro rehearsing with the rest of the ensembles.
Ndahiro rehearsing with the rest of the ensembles.

Adapted from the Kinyarwanda language, the word injyana means ‘the motion of the music’.

True to the notion, the ensemble’s goal is to bring orchestra music back to life.


Veteran music instrumentalists shared their experiences of the Injyana musical pieces.


“It’s such an interesting, and lively combination of musicians with all age groups and eleven nationalities. It’s a representative of Kigali as a growing city of diversity,” says Lance Gaskill, the founder of the Injyana ensembles which includes the ‘Injyana Orchestra Rwanda’, the ‘Injyana Jazz Big Band’, ‘Injyana Community Band’.


The Injyana Orchestra Rwanda is a multicultural, multigenerational ensemble and the first ever symphony orchestra in Rwanda.

“We combine experienced musicians, adults or students from different cultures with some of our new Rwandan musicians who have come through our training and reached a high enough level of proficiency.”

Gaskill instructs the orchestra.

Right in the musical arts facility, of Green Hills Academy is the training ground where members of the ensemble master their various styles of orchestral music.

I got a chance to attend the one and a half hour rehearsal, ahead of the Injyana ensembles concert 2017 scheduled for April 2 at Christian Life Assembly. It was captivating to watch the interaction between the musicians as they collectively worked toward the power of expression through music to be delivered in their upcoming concert entitled “Rwanda’s Injyana”

Pacis Ndahiro, Rwanda’s first classical piano soloist

In the corner of the room is Pacis Ndahiro who I’m told is Rwanda’s first concert piano soloist and will be featured in the concert.

“Pacis is a talented young man with an unusual God given gift. It’s a joy when people like us meet and work together,” he says.

Ndahiro’s first encounter with Classical Music occurred when he was a student Ndera Secondary school and since then his curiosity and talent discovery led him to many musical areas including singing, choir conducting and Piano Playing.

He started playing the Piano at age 14, which he took seriously after discovering Glenn Gould and Bach’s music. He then started learning new Repertoire and exploring other Recordings and Videos of Chopin, Liszt and Beethoven among others.

He thereafter attended and auditioned for the Kigali-Oakdale Music School and since then, got more opportunities to practice and study with more advanced teachers, including Heli-Ahveninen Saaristo from Finland and the internationally known Concert Pianist Martin Helmchen from Germany(since 2015 on).

“There are lots of pianists around but they aren’t classical musicians. My background has contributed in some way as a student in the seminary,” he says.

“Since I was 12 years old, I have been in contact with lots of kinds of music and I started learning, as a singer in the choir too and I wanted to become an organist in the church.”

“When I was given assignments to prepare masses, I tried to prepare the mass very quickly and started learning classical pieces and from then on they started carrying me on and then I started to get challenges and learning more music and then I realized I could become a good pianist.”

He is currently a student in water and environmental engineering at the University of Rwanda and is working on his first album, which includes works by Handel, his arrangements of Rwandese Traditional Music and other Traditional African Music.

Juggling music with school

Although gifted and talented, Ndahiro admits that music is not all rosy especially as an engineering student who has to juggle his talent with education.

“We all know music is very hard to balance with studies unless off course, you are in music school. It’s challenging because it is necessary for a classical pianist for instance to practice for a minimum of two hours a day, learning new pieces.”

“Classical music is challenging however and engineering is challenging and so I try my best to give in my all in class and also give in my best in classical music even though it is already a natural part of me. I do my best with love and care.”

Being a classical pianist requires an intellectual capacity to understand your audience to suit their different taste and “if you don’t have it, you will have a hard time learning.”

“Classical music is not very popular especially the instrumental bit. It’s some kind of race but I believe it’s time to create a new audience and a new public that can really enjoy classical music and we can be pioneers of classical music. This is what drives me.” This is the new fusion of a growing culture in Kigali.

Looking up to Gaskill, an orchestra conductor is the second field he wants to conquer after a solo pianist and represent Africa in classical music.

“We have done three rehearsals already and each one was a unique experience because I’m learning from a real life conductor whose music is exciting. I’m also interested in conducting an orchestra like Gaskill does.”

“I really want to make it to the top as a solo classic pianist and be a pride to Africa and Rwanda because they are not represented at all in the classical era and I have not seen very many Africans represented.”

In addition to the thrill of hearing Rwanda’s first classical piano soloist debut with the Injyana Orchestra, Gaskill notes that the upcoming concert is a chance to open one’s eyes, heart and ears to the new wave of music sweeping through Rwanda.

“The Jazz Band will cook up some hot jazz, including music of Miles Davis, Trombone Shorty, and some fun, hopping South African music. The Community Band will inspire you with the growth of young musicians pursuing excellence”.

“The Injyana Orchestra Rwanda will feature music of famous classical composers, powerful movie-score sounding music, a hymn-tune, and the feature of Ndahiro on piano,” he says.

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