Instrumentalist - Viola, Instrumentalist - Violin
Confession: I Gave Up Football for Beethoven and I'm Glad I Did

“The star of the show was Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major.... Saturday’s performance showed not only why it is still being performed, but why there is good reason to hear the chamber pieces not only of Beethoven, but of lots of more recent composers such as Leos Janacek (1854-1928). The other star of this performance was violinist Nokuthula Ngwenyama, who was raised locally and has gone on to an international career.”

Bob Gelfand, City Watch L.A.
Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio at the Perelman
“Laredo and guest violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama had a nice thing going on [with the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio] in the Dvorák Piano Quartet in E flat major (Op. 87), often passing similar material back and forth. The spirited reading gathered energy through interactions of this sort, as well as some lovely repose from cellist Sharon Robinson in the second movement. Ngwenyama has a fascinating kind of charismatic sound. It’s not huge, and yet, through a combination of focus and refinement, it has great presence. She’s young, born just a few months before KLR’s debut, and brought the added benefit of responding to her colleagues in subtle ways.”
Peter Dobrin, Philadelphia Inquirer
"In the concert world, it is not the viola, but the violin, with its wide-ranging, often flashy literature, that usually gets the glory. As a musician of growing distinction, Ngwenyama is doing much to dispel myths about her instrument." Read More...
Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Enquirer
CSO conductor, soloist fill in superbly
"Even though it's not a virtuoso showpiece for the soloist, 'Harold in Italy' demands artistry and poetry. Ngwenyama is a musician who possesses both. She projected a big, relaxed sound in the extroverted moments, and her lyrical themes had expressive beauty."
Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Enquirer
"It's fun to dig into the music of Rubinstein (1829-1894), a Russian pianist, composer, conductor and teacher (Tchaikovsky was one of his students) who was a titan in his day but is now largely forgotten. His Op. 49 viola and Op. 13 violin sonatas are conventional romantic showpieces, though the viola sonata is a valuable discovery for an instrument that doesn't have much recital repertoire to choose from. Ngwenyama soars in the Andante." Read More...
John Fleming, St. Petersburg Times
"Canadian pianist Jennifer Lim and California-born violinist Nokuthula Ngwenyama (her father was Zimbabwean) have done a great job in dusting off these pieces and presenting them with passion and conviction. They leave you thinking this music deserves a better place in the chamber music repertory." Read More...
Mary Kunz Goldman, Buffalo News
"Nokuthula Ngwenyama gave the piece an incendiary reading."
Allan Kozinn, New York Times
"Luckily, the traditional stereotypes for the viola don't exist for Ngwenyama's, which is likely why she's won so many accolades, including an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Pianist Lim makes her mark here, too, somehow drawing out a similarly dark and smooth texture to match. The Rubinstein Sonatas, often overlooked, offer a touching portrait of Romanticism." Read More...
Anna Reguero, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Best Bets
"The viola doesn't get much respect. While concertos for violin and cello abound, similar vehicles for the viola are a scarcity, and well-known soloists are all but nonexistent. A notable exception is Nokuthula Ngwenyama, who gained international attention when she won two major competitions at age 17. Now 32, she enjoys a successful international career."
Denver Post
"Born in California to a Zimbabwean Ndebele father and a Japanese mother, musician Nokuthula Ngwenyama has spent her life defying other people's definitions of her - playing classical music against her parents' wishes, tackling both the violin and the viola on a professional level and studying more than just music in college (she holds a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard)." Read More...
Fort Collins Coloradoan
"Nokuthula Ngwenyama, 32, was eight years old when Kenney conducted her in a Los Angeles youth orchestra. At the time, Ngwenyama was only just beginning her studies with the violin, a pursuit that would lead her to international acclaim as a stellar soloist on the viola." Read More...
Matt Brady, Fort Collins Now
"Like any good modern violist, Nokuthula Ngwenyama, a Californian of Zimbabwean-Japanese parentage, has displayed a willingness to stretch out artistically in search of new material." Read More...
Greg Cahill, Strings Magazine
"Ngwenyama (pronounced En-gwen-ya-ma) played an 1892, 15½-inch viola by Marengo Romano Rinaldi of Turin. With it, she projected a warm, enveloping sound that came across well in Memorial Hall's hard-edged acoustics."
Mary Ellyn Hutton, Cincinnati Post
"The 31-year-old violist, born in Los Angeles of Zimbabwean and Japanese parentage, is an elegant soloist who projects a rare aura of calm beauty when she plays. Her 19th-century Italian viola is not terribly large as violas go (15 ½ inches). Yet, her first note was almost startling, so big and distinctive was her timbre." Read More...
Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Enquirer
"... she provides solidly shaped music of bold, mesmerizing character."
"No small part was played by the fabulous violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama, who (truth to tell) exhibited a greater mastery of the instrument than Hindemith the violist ever did on recordings."
Boston Globe
"Ngwenyama sailed through all this display like the virtuoso she is."
Los Angeles Times
Total: 17 (Viewing: 1–17)