About Safaricom Youth Orchestra

The Safaricom Youth Orchestra is an exciting musical project launched by CEO Bob Collymore in April 2014. It brings together 70 Children aged between 10 and 18 years from different backgrounds, united by music! All of them are gifted, passionate and committed to their musical journey. They dazzled the audience at their debut performance, featuring the Safaricom choir on 12th October 2014.

The Orchestra meets to rehearse every Saturday under the directorship of Dr. Duncan Wambugu and Levi Wathaka who works with the best instrumental teachers in Kenya. For all the members, this is an opportunity of a lifetime to develop into the best musicians they can possibly be. 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.


Brian Sempele (Violin) has a wealth of experience teaching and playing the violin that spans over 10 years. He was a founder member and long standing section leader with the Kenya Conservatoire of Music Orchestra and has also run a successful string quartet, appearing at many events in Nairobi, Kampala and Dar es Salaam.  He is a leading teacher with pupils at Rosslyn Academy, Cavina, Brookhouse and Kenya High. Brian is currently the Concert Master with the Nairobi Orchestra.

David Ralak (Violin) a member of the Nairobi Orchestra, currently holds the Concert Master’s chair both at the Kenya Conservatoire of Music Orchestra, and the National Youth Orchestra of Kenya (KNYO). He has been playing the violin for over 10 years. David has studied violin with leading international tutors in Kenya and the UK and will represent the KNYO in the SCOKENDIA ensemble in Glasgow Scotland in July this year. David is also the director of Strings at The Nairobi Children’s Orchestra.

Carey Sleeman (Viola/ Cello/ Double bass) is a former teacher at Mt Kenya Academy, where she taught strings. Carey is a trained strings pedagogy instructor with orchestral and ensemble experience in various school and youth orchestras in Rotchester, New York State.  Carey is currently an instructor at the Kenya Conservatoire of Music, as well as other private schools in Nairobi.

Dr Donald Otoyo (Woodwinds) is a trained Clarinet and Saxophone teacher and performer. He is a member of the Nairobi Jazz Orchestra and is frequently asked as a guest player for the Nairobi Orchestra. He is currently the Chairman – Music and Creative Arts Department, Technical University of Kenya. Dr Otoyo continues to be an example of pedagogic success by the quality and caliber of his students who are represented as section leaders in each of the main ensembles in Kenya.

Philip Maina (Woodwinds) is also a member of both the Nairobi Orchestra and the Nairobi Jazz orchestra. He is founder member as well as Principal Clarinet of the National Youth Orchestra of Kenya. He is a trained Clarinet and Saxophone performer and teacher, and a great example of the impact of orchestra playing and youth development. Philip will also represent the National Youth Orchestra of Kenya as a player and composer in residence with the SCOKENDIA ensemble in Glasgow later this year. Philip has served as Director of Woodwinds at the Nairobi Children’s Orchestra since its inception.

Mark Horton (Brass) is currently a teacher of music and brass instruments at Brookhouse International Schools.  He is a professional trombone player with experience ranging from brass bands to jazz combos in Europe. Mark tutors the lower brass section of the National Youth Orchestra of Kenya and appears regularly with leading horn sections for both Television and stage performances. He is also the leader of the Nairobi Jazz Orchestra.

William (Bill) Rowe (Brass) is a trained trumpet instructor and performer. He is currently the Head of Music at Daystar University and the section leader of the Nairobi Orchestra, a regular rehearsal conductor and section tutor of the National Youth Orchestra of Kenya (KNYO). Bill has appeared on stage and the TV series, TPF among others.

Moses Watatua (Brass/ Public Schools Liaison) is a trained Music Education Specialist, Brass instructor and performer. He is a former Head of Music at Brookhouse International Schools and is currently the Head of Music for Ghetto Classics (GC) as well as Harmony Kenya Foundation. Moses has played extensively with the Nairobi Orchestra from the early 90’s and runs successful brass band programmes including the Renowned Nairobi School band and the Old Cambrians band.

Grace Muriithi (Percussion) is currently the Chairperson of the Nairobi Orchestra. She is an internationally trained pianist, violinist and vocalist. She is a leading trainer for orchestral percussion in East and Central Africa and has been the percussion tutor at the KNYO since inception.