Nokuthula Ngwenyama, viola

Nokuthula Ngwenyama

Nokuthula Ngwenyama’s performances as orchestral soloist, recitalist and chamber musician garner great attention. Gramophone proclaimed Ms. Ngwenyama as providing “solidly shaped music of bold, mesmerising character,” and the Washington Post described her as playing “with dazzling technique...and deep expressiveness.”

As a performer, Ms. Ngwenyama gained international prominence winning the Primrose International Viola Competition at 16. The following year she won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, which led to debuts at the Kennedy Center and the 92nd Street ‘Y.’  A recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, she has performed with orchestras and as recitalist the world over.

Presently composing and performing, this 2021-22 season Ms. Ngwenyama collaborates with the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio on the premiere of Elegy for piano quartet, lead commissioned by the Linton Chamber Series and supported by the Arizona Friends of Music, Chamber Music Monterrey Bay, Chamber Music Northwest, Chamber Music Tulsa, Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle, the Kennedy Center, Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, and the Phoenix Chamber Music Society. She joins the Oregon Mozart Players with maestro Kelly Kuo performing Dobrinka Tabakova’s ‘Suite in Old Style’ and returns to the Colburn School as an Amplify Artist, premiering Cars Talk for violin, viola, cello and bass. As a member of the group Umama Womama she joins fellow instrumentalists and composers Valerie Coleman and Hannah Lash premiering a jointly written trio commissioned by Chamber Music Northwest, Phoenix Chamber Music Society and Clarion Concerts. Primal Message, an homage to the Arecibo message that received its orchestral world premiere with the maestro Xian Zhang and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra last season, is performed by her and the Orquesta Nacional de España, Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the New Jersey, Toronto and San Francisco Symphonies.

Ms. Ngwenyama has performed at the White House and testified before Congress on behalf of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).  An avid educator, she served as visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She also served as director of the Primrose International Viola Competition and is past president of the American Viola Society.  She curates Composer’s Choice, a co-production of ASU/Kerr Cultural Center, Phoenix Chamber Music Society, and Peace Mama Productions (PMP). It features 21st century music and its creators – from the concert hall to television, game and beyond – in a chamber setting.

Born in Los Angeles, California of Zimbabwean-Japanese parentage, Nokuthula Endo Ngwenyama  (No-goo-TOO-lah En-doh En-gwen-YAH-mah) studied theory and counterpoint with Mary Ann Cummins, Warren Spaeth and Dr. Herbert Zipper at the Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences. She also appeared on Sylvia Kunin’s Emmy-nominated ‘A Musical Encounter’ series with host Lynn Harrell and was an orchestral soloist in the American Film Foundation documentary Never Give Up: The 20th Century Odyssey of Herbert Zipper.  She is an alumna of the Colburn School for the Performing Arts (now the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts) and the Curtis Institute of Music, where her theory and counterpoint teachers were Edward Aldwell, Jennifer Higdon and David Loeb. As a Fulbright Scholar she attended the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris and received a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard University. She is the first composer in residence of the Phoenix Chamber Music Society and plays on a 1597 Antonius and Hieronymus Amati viola from the Biggs Collection.