Nokuthula Ngwenyama’s performances as orchestral soloist, recitalist and chamber musician garner great attention. Gramaphone 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.”
Ms. Ngwenyama came to international prominence when she won the Primrose International Viola Competition and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions at age 17. Plaudits followed her debut recitals at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, and at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. In 1998, she received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant.
Ms. Ngwenyama has since performed with the Atlanta, Baltimore, and Indianapolis symphonies, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the National Symphony Orchestra. She has been heard in recital at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, the Louvre, the Ford Center in Toronto, and the Maison de Radio France. Summer festival appearances include Green Music, Vail, San Diego’s Mainly Mozart, Chamber Music Northwest, Marlboro Music Festival, Spoleto USA, and Burgundy’s Musique et Vin.
Recent highlights include an appearance with the Sinfonietta Cracovia performing Penderecki’s Viola Concerto, and at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia and on the People’s Concert Series in New York City with the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio. She performed with the Phoenix Symphony and Maestro Ignat Solzhenitsyn, gave recitals in Los Angeles and Oakland with the world premiere of Byron Adams’s Sonata for Viola and Piano, and appeared with Bruno Mars on Saturday Night Live. Ms. Ngwenyama also performed at Nexus Hall in Tokyo’s Chanel Tower and the Xi’an Conservatory of Music, where she is a visiting professor. In recent years, she was chosen for the coveted Duncanson Artist-in-Residency at the Taft Museum.
Ms. Ngwenyama’s performance at the White House, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the radio show Performance Today, also featured artists Wynton Marsalis, James Galway and Denyce Graves. She has testified before Congress on behalf of the National Endowment for the Arts and is an avid educator, having served as visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and at Indiana University. She is past-director of both the Primrose International Viola Competition and the American Viola Society. She spearheaded an award-winning string program for Biltmore Preparatory Academy, a public school in Phoenix, Arizona and performed with the Japanese group The Surfing Godzillas as both instrumentalist and vocalist. Born in California of Zimbabwean-Japanese parentage, Ms. Ngwenyama studied at the Colburn School’s Community School of Performing Arts before attending the Curtis Institute of Music. As a Fulbright Scholar, she attended the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris, and received a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard University.
Ms. Ngwenyama has composed since childhood and was first recognized in a Los Angeles Unified School District competition. She later studied theory, counterpoint and composition under Dr. Herbert Zipper, Mary Ann Cummins, and Warren Spaeth at the Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences. While studying at the Curtis Institute of Music, her theory teachers included Edward Aldwell, David Loeb, and Jennifer Higdon. Her works have been performed in the United States, China, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Czech Republic. She is the first composer in residence of the Phoenix Chamber Music Society, appointed in their 57th season.
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