A native of Nairobi, Kenya, Duncan is currently on the faculty at Kenyatta University’s Department of Music and Dance in Nairobi, as Lecturer. He also serves as Organist /Choir Director at St Andrews’ Presbyterian Church, Nairobi.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music (Organ Performance) from Augustana University College, in Alberta, Canada, (1999), a Master of Music (Choral Conducting) from the University of Alberta (2003), and a PhD in Music Education from the School of Music at the University of Florida (2012).
While in Canada, he was the Chapel Organ Scholar at Augustana University College, Assistant Conductor for the University of Alberta Mixed Chorus, Choral Assistant for the Richard Eaton Singers in Edmonton as well as a member of University of Alberta Madrigal Singers and the professional chorus PROCORO Canada. In Florida, he was the Founder/Director of the first ever University of Florida Africa Choir Pazeni Sauti, started in September 2009.
Duncan has served as an Adjudicator for the annual Kenya Music Festival (Nationals), and Choral Festival Alberta (North & South), Canada; Conductor for the Nairobi Orchestra, Kenya Conservatoire of Music Orchestra, Nairobi Music Society and Kampala Symphony and Chorus; Clinician/ Facilitator for the Permanent Presidential Music Commission (Kenya), Kenya Music Festival Foundation and Resource Person (Music) for the All Africa Conference of Churches. In 2008, he was selected to be the Vocal Coach for the reality show IDOLS- Eastern and Southern Africa.
In 2011, he was appointed as Music Director for the Safaricom Classical Fusion Festival, which featured among others the world re-known vocal groups Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Kenya’s own Sauti Sol. He has written and presented several papers on various aspects of performance of African (Art) Music and Music Education in national and International music conferences and workshops. His PhD thesis explored the rationale for the use of Kenyan Choral Art Music in the high school music curriculum in Kenya
Duncan has received various awards including Augustana University Charles K Noble Award and Onesimus Award, the University of Florida Alec Courtelis Award, University of Florida College of Fine Arts International Student Outstanding Achievement Award, Florida Higher Education Arts Network Advocacy Award, the University of Alberta Horizon Award and Kenyatta University Extra Mile Award.
Since his return to Kenya in 2013, Duncan was appointed the Music Director of the Safaricom Youth Orchestra (SYO), founded in May 2014; Trustee of Art Of Music Foundation which runs the Ghetto Classics and National Youth Orchestra of Kenya (KNYO) programs; member of the Kenya Music and Cultural Festival (KM&CF) Committee; facilitator for the Permanent Presidential Music Commission Talent Academies held in various counties across the country, active presenter at various conferences and workshops locally and internationally, and conducts the Nairobi Orchestra, KNYO and SYO in various concerts. All the while, he continues to be on the faculty at Kenyatta University’s Music Department.
Levi Wataka is a graduate of Music (Bmus) and is completing his Master of Music Education degree from Kenyatta University.
He continues to study conducting with Rodolfo Saglimbeni, Denise Ham and Toby Purser through the annual George Hurst Conductors’ Course in Sherborne, England. Levi has participated with the Nairobi Orchestra for more than 16 years, playing percussion, 2nd clarinet and keyboard.
He serves on the orchestra committee and as principal resident conductor. He regularly conducts the Nairobi Music Society Choir, where he has been a member for 20 years (9 as conductor). Levi has also conducted choirs and orchestras for adults and children in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Scotland, Italy with the Orchestra Philharmonia di Veneto and Venezuela with the Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado Anzoategui.
Levi has been the Director of Music at St. Andrew’s School, Turi and the Aga Khan Academy in Nairobi and currently serves as Assistant Director of Music and teacher of sports at Peponi House Preparatory School.
He served as the resident conductor with the Kenya Conservatoire of Music Orchestra for more than ten years where he now regularly offers assistance to young conductors. He is currently Musical Director with the National Youth Orchestra of Kenya and the Nairobi Children’s Orchestra. Levi also conducts the Safaricom Youth Orchestra, assisting Dr.Duncan Wambugu.
He was selected to conduct the inaugural Safaricom Classical Fusion concert in February 2008. Levi serves on the board of the Kamili Organisation, working towards training for psychiatric nurses to provide improved mental health care across Kenya. Levi has undertaken the IRB level 2 rugby coaching and officiating training, and spends some of his time developing this as founding coach and patron with the Molo Simbas Rugby Club.
One of his main interest is to help develop further the structures and curricula for instrumental music education in Kenya, working closely with schools, cultural organisations and institutions of higher learning.
Levi has recently completed a national diploma in Early Childhood Development and Education, and spends some time pursuing this through the Muziki Changa music programme for infants and toddlers. He has worked closely with Art of Music Foundation initiatives, including Ghetto Classics and ‘Link-Up’ and the Lenana School music programme among others.
Dr. Duncan Wambugu – Music Director
Levi Wataka – Assistant Music Director
Timothy Muritu is a brilliant Violist who fell in love with music at the age of 6.
This led him down the path of Choral soloing with his elementary school and church’s children’s choir in Atlanta, Georgia before he explored playing the violin at the age of 10.
He later on came back and continued his studies on the viola at the conservatoire of music.
He has since then played with and mentored several youths in the art of the strings.
He currently performs with brilliant musicians from all over the world as well as mentoring youths – in the capacity of a tutor – at KNYO and SYO.
Playing in the Ravenna Festival under Ricardo Muti’s Baton is one of his favourite moments in his musical path.
Donald Otoyo Ondieki holds a PHD in Music Performance and Education, a Master of Music in Performance and a Bachelor of Education in Music from Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya.
Donald enjoys a wide experience as a performer, educator, researcher and music industry consultant in Kenya. Currently, Donald is the Director of the Permanent Presidential Music Commission, the state department in charge of music in Kenya, the Vice-Chairman of the Kenya Music Festival and a Board Director of the Kenya Copyright Board.
Prior to that, he was Senior Lecturer and Chairman of the Department of Music and Performing Arts at the Technical University of Kenya, a Vice-President of the Pan African Society of Musical Arts Education (PASMAE), and, the Coordinator of the Kenyan Creative Arts National Working Group. His research and publications have focused on the music industry, popular music and contemporary, socio-cultural and technological issues in music education.
Eugene Muthui, a trumpeter based in Nairobi with experience in orchestral music as well as instrumental teaching.
He has played in Nairobi Orchestra for the last six years as well as in numerous other ensembles, classical and contemporary, most notably Shamsi Music.
My name is Jason Rae (DipAbrsm), Trombone tutor for Syo since January 2018. Musical qualifications include ABRSM Diploma in trombone performance, Grade 8 distinction.
I have over 7 yrs experience working as a professional musician in Kenya, performing live and studio recording for some of Kenya’s biggest acts e.g Kidum, Maia von Lekow, Blinky Bill, Coke Studio Africa season 3, Nairobi Orchestra etc…I have also for the past 5yrs been teaching brass instruments at top schools in Nairobi e.g. Kenton college, ISK, Mpesa Foundation. I am also pursuing music production, releasing music under various projects e.g. Amzi Odek.
My other interests are in film, art and philosophy. I am very passionate about my section in SYO. Just like our instrument, we’re always ready to go, facing challenges head on and always working and learning new things together. We aim to keep the rest of the orchestra on their toes with our tightness and coordination, and to impact the whole country with our music.
Miss Masala joined SYO in September 2016 as the Cello tutor. She holds a Grade 8 Distinction (ABRSM) in cello playing and has played both locally as a member of the Nairobi String Quartet The National Youth Orchestra of Kenya, The Kenya Conservatoire Orchestra, The Kenya Conservatoire Women’s Orchestra and the Nairobi Orchestra and internationally with the Dar-Es Salaam Orchestra in Tanzania, BISYOC Intercultural Youth Orchestra in England, Cello Ensemble Freude, The Dalminer Orchestra and the Orchestra of Pavia in Italy, where she had travelled to study on scholarship from the Government of Italy in 2015 and 2016.
She enjoys both listening and playing a broad array of music ranging from jazz to classical to African arrangements and she sometimes dabbles in a bit of composition and arrangement, garnering her inspiration from the likes of the Soweto String Quartet, Vitamin String Quartet, Quartetto Ebene and The Turtle Island Quartet. Her journey on the cello has been an interplay between challenge, reward and most of all fun!
She hopes to inspire her section members to be able to enjoy the same experience she has managed to, not only by guiding and pushing them technically but also allowing them to bring out their best, diligent and creative selves in order to become confident individual cellists who can uniquely reinforce the section and the orchestra as a whole.
Natasha Luturian is a music teacher and flute tutor. She joined the Safaricom Youth Orchestra tutor team in February 2020 as a mentee for the flute section. Natasha holds a Grade 5 ABRSM Music Theory certificate and is currently working towards her Grade 8 ABRSM Flute exam.
She is currently a third-year student at Kenyatta University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Music. In addition to her position at SYO, Natasha is also a tutor at the Nairobi Children’s Orchestra, and a facilitator at Muziki Changa. She was also the flute facilitator at the International School of Kenya Music Camp in 2018 and 2019. Natasha is a member of the Nairobi Flute Ensemble and was the principal flautist in the Nutcracker Ballet under the Nairobi Philharmonic Orchestra, staged by Dance Centre Kenya in 2019.
Some of her other interests include reading novels, cooking and outdoor adventures and travels. Being a former member of the Safaricom Youth Orchestra (2014), she hopes to pass on the skills she gained from the orchestra and inspire the members of her section to get to a more professional level of playing that will enable them to make strides in the Art Music scene in Kenya just as she has.
Bassoon and saxophone tutor since 2018. Peter Nyabuto is a woodwind tutor based in Nairobi. He has a Bachelor of Music Degree and ABRSM Grade eight certification on the saxophone and the clarinet. He has been active in the music industry in teaching and performing capacities, which includes working with the Kenya Conservatoire of Music, the Nairobi Orchestra, The National Youth Orchestra of Kenya and various other ensembles.
He has also performed on various stages including Kenya’s biggest festivals like Safaricom Jazz Festival and Blankets and Wine. He is passionate about spreading a culture of music appreciation and enjoyment.
He hopes that he will be part of the efforts to popularize single reed instruments, like the bassoon that he tutors, and encourage more people to take it up. Nyabuto is a full time musician and in his leisure time he enjoys outdoor activities, good conversation and other performing arts.
Philip Mania works as a peripatetic teacher in Nairobi and is trained as a Clarinet and Saxophone performer and teacher.
He teaches at various schools around Nairobi and has been part of the Safaricom Youth Orchestra since its inception in 2014.
He is founder member, tutor and conductor at the National Youth Orchestra of Kenya and often plays Clarinet and Bassoon with the Nairobi Orchestra as well.
He has also been the conductor of the Kenya Conservatoire Orchestra since 2016.
Philip was a player and composer in residence with the SCOKENDIA ensemble in Glasgow in 2014. His composition ‘Sherehe’ was premiered by the Nairobi Orchestra in June 2015.
Bill Rowe has been a trumpet tutor since the beginning of 2015. He graduated with a bachelor’s of Music with an emphasis on trumpet performance from California State University Fullerton. and master’s degree in Church Music from Western Seminary.
Bill has taught music at Multnomah University, Portland Oregon, Daystar University and Rosslyn Academy as well as a private trumpet tutor for 35 years both in the US and Kenya. He was a featured soloist at the Safaricom Classical Fusion Concert. He has been Principal trumpet with the Nairobi Orchestra as well as a featured soloist with the Nairobi Orchestra performing the Haydn Trumpet Concerto, the Hummel Trumpet Concerto, Vivaldi Concerto for two Trumpets and Quiet City by Aaron Copeland. He has also been the Trumpet tutor for KNYO from its beginning.
On a personal note, he loves cooking and sharing meals with family and friends, enjoying the wonderful produce Kenya has to offer. He loves the Safaricom Youth Orchestra for a number of reasons. First, it brings talented players from many different schools together to make music. It also is a chance to invest in the lives of young players, giving them the skills and confidence to be successful in their lives whichever path they choose.
Grace has been tutoring this Percussion section since the inception of Safaricom Youth Orchestra.
She studied Music Performance in Darlington College of Arts and further studied Music Education especially in Primary School and Peripatetic Teaching at University of Exeter.
Grace has been percussion leader at Nairobi Orchestra for very many years now and has taught in several schools around Nairobi area.
She is also the Percussion Tutor for Kenya National Youth Orchestra since its inception.
Grace is the Chief Judge for the Young Musician Competition and a previous Chairperson of Nairobi Orchestra.
She is greatly involved in many areas of Classical and Orchestral Music growth in this country.
David Ralak 27, is one of Kenya’s finest violinists with insurmountable dedication to the then refinement of the art as well as teaching it to the upcoming generation. David has spent most of his career as an orchestral violinist and has had vast orchestral experience with orchestras both locally and internationally and has performed at concert halls such as the Royal Festival hall in London with the Chineke! Orchestra.
Besides performing , David is dedicated to teaching music privately as well as institutionally. As one of the founders of the Nairobi string quartet, David spends most of his time managing the quartet which runs independent concerts for the public as well as privately organized events. David believes strongly in being able to give back to the community and also being able to give other young people the same opportunities as he had and as such David spends a lot his time working with The Art of Music Foundation, which runs The Kenya National youth Orchestra, Ghetto Classics and as well as the, Safaricom youth Orchestra, where he teaches and inspires young teenagers to become great instrumentalists as well as respectable and responsible members of the community.
In David’s spare time he enjoys both local & international travel, relaxing with friends and also performing in his newly formed Nairobi String Quart
George is not only an SYO alumni but also a tutor and mentor. He says SYO has helped him with his personal growth by allowing him to be a team player and nurturing his responsibility and commitment to the group. The confidence helped him take his career to the next level.
Joining SYO helped him influence the music industry as they operate like a family.
Papa began her tutelage as a mentor in 2014 in the Lower Strings section. She became a tutor in 2018, taking care of the Double Bassists. She holds a Grade 8 (Distinction) for the Violoncello and the Double Bass.
Papa was a member of The Scokendia Ensemble as a Cellist. The ensemble comprises musicians from Scotland, Kenya and India and was established in October 2013 in anticipation of the XX Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Papa has served as a cellist and double bass player in the National Youth orchestra of Kenya, the Kenya Conservatoire of Music Symphony Orchestra and currently plays with Nairobi Orchestra as a Double Bassist. She is a holder of a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Chemistry form the University of Nairobi and Post Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of Nottingham.
Papa also teaches Chemistry at Rusinga Schools and finds Organic Chemistry fascinating. Papa hopes to inspire more young people to take up Double Bass playing and is keen to see the section grow in numbers and musicianship.
My name is Samuel Mutuku, I am a mentee tutor of the alto sax section since 2018. I am currently pursuing a Masters’ Degree in Music Education at Kenyatta University which was awarded to me as a scholarship for being top of the School of Visual and Performing Arts in my undergraduate studies at the same institution. I received a 1st class honours in the Bachelor of Music in 2016.
I am also a holder of an ABRSM Grade 8 Certificate in Clarinet Performance. I have taught in several institutions as a peripatetic tutor of woodwinds most notably in Starehe’ Boys Centre, Braeside International School and St. Hannah’s Academy both in Karen and Ngong Rd.
I have been most notably in 3 of the most exciting bands in Nairobi as a saxophonist. The Villagers’ under Chris Adwar which has opened the way for me to share the stage with such acts as Kanjii Mbugua, Atemi and Dan Aceda. With The Beathogs’, we have performed with Eric Wainaina as an opening act to UB40’s performance in Nairobi in 2020.
As for Adhoc, we represented Kenya in the Safaricom Jazz Festival in 2018 where we shared the stage with Grammy winning artist Diane Reeves. I am currently pursuing a solo artiste career with the 1st single “Pretty Little Monster” set to be released in early October 2020. We possess arguably the most flexible and expressive instrument in the orchestra.
Every year we welcome some supremely talented budding saxophonists with powerful individual voices. With the concept of “Serious Play”, we seek to create an environment where growth is not only a challenge accepted but one where it is joyfully embraced.
Jenny has been a tutor with Safaricom Youth Orchestra since 2015. Jenny is a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, holding a BMus(hons) in Music Performance.
She moved to Nairobi in 2012 to teach music at the Starehe Boys’ Centre and School. Jenny is the principal tuba player of the Nairobi Orchestra, where she also serves as secretary on the orchestra committee. She teaches brass, piano and music theory at Kenton College, Peponi School and the Mpesa Foundation Academy.
She has been a tutor for the National Youth Orchestra of Kenya since 2012 and the Nairobi Children’s Orchestra since 2016. SYO rehearsals are a regular highlight of my week! It is a privilege to work with such talented and enthusiastic young players every week, supporting them to develop their individual techniques, and learn how to work together and blend their sounds as a section.
It is my dream that each young person in the orchestra learns and grows through this process, and that the qualities and skills they develop will help them to find and pursue their passions in life to the highest level. It is my hope that SYO will always continue to contribute to the growth of young musicians, and thus to continuously raising the standard of musical performance in the country.
Dr. Benjamin Wamocho is the music librarian for SYO. He has been with the orchestra since its inception in 2014.
He holds an ABRSM Grade 5 theory and Grade 6 percussion.
He has attended numerous workshops and master classes with many notable musicians from around the world visiting Kenya. He is currently working on Grade 8 Percussion and Dip. in Music Direction.
Wamocho is arranger and a conductor. He holds the position of Music Director, Ghetto Classics and is one of the young conductors for the Kenya National Youth Orchestra. He also plays orchestral percussion with the Nairobi Orchestra and has been featured with the Ghetto Classics in many performances both local and international including the Safaricom International Jazz Festival and the Brave Festival, Wroclaw, Poland.
Besides Music, Wamocho is a Veterinary Surgeon with a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Nairobi.
“I am very deliberate about order without which it is impossible to run a music library. My dream is to have a diverse, organised and an efficient music library that is easily accessible for all players and tutors for their musical needs”
Brian Sempele is tutor and mentor of the First Violin section at SYO since 2014. Brian has studied music intensively, earning his ABRSM Violin Grade 8 qualification in 2006, and is currently working towards his Piano Grade 6. Brian has attended masterclasses hosted by international violinists such as Dong Suk Kang (2003), Wolfgang David (2005), Ulrike Evans (2007), among others.
Brian was a founder member and long-standing section leader with the Kenya Conservatoire of Music Orchestra, and also ran a successful commercial string quartet for over a decade, appearing at many events around East Africa. He led the Scokendia ensemble on a concert tour of Scotland during the 2014 Commonwealth Games. His notable collaborations include working with the Soweto String Quartet, Cape Town Opera, the London Garden Opera, Riccardo Muti, among others. In 2013 Brian became the first Kenyan to lead the Nairobi Orchestra, since the group was founded in 1947. Brian’s teaching experience spans over 14 years with affiliation to Peponi School, Rosslyn Academy, Cavina School, Brookhouse School, and the Kenya High School.
Brian enjoys molding the musicianship and character of SYO members, and looks forward to seeing them successfully apply to their lives the discipline, focus and integrity developed at SYO, and hopefully some professional musicians emerging from his section. Brian is electrical engineer by training and teaches Science and Music at Kenton College Preparatory School. He was named among Kenya’s Top 40 under 40 men in 2015 by the Business Daily Newspaper for his achievements in music.
Sandra Daniel has been the horn tutor for Safaricom Youth Orchestra since 2015. She also teaches with Nairobi Children’s Orchestra and is the band director at Rosslyn Academy.
She holds a bachelor degree from Mercer University and a master degree from VanderCook College of Music both in the United States. She aspires to bring the joy of horn playing to as many students as possible.
Dr. Donald Otoyo
William (Bill) Rowe