Nokuthula Ngwenyama

United States of America

“Mother of Peace and “Lion” in Zulu: Nokuthula Ngwenyama (No-koo-TOO-lah En-gwen-YAH-mah) embodies the two meanings in her name as an artistic force. Born in California of Zimbabwean-Japanese parentage and an alumna of the Colburn School, her performances as orchestral soloist, recitalist and chamber musician garner great attention. Gramophone proclaims Ms. Ngwenyama as “providing solidly shaped music of bold mesmerizing character.” As a composer, Uptown Magazine featured her “A Poet of Sound.”

Nokuthula 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.’ Today she performs with orchestras and collaborates musically the world over. As a featured guest on APM’s Performance Today she speaks this month of her career, releases, curation, forming Peace Mama Productions and two world premieres this season: Rising for Solo Multitrack Violin and Pedals and Primal Message for Viola Quintet – performed with the Dover Quartet and jointly commissioned by the Phoenix Chamber Music Society and Chamber Music Northwest.

Ms. Ngwenyama has performed at the White House and has testified before Congress on behalf of the National Endowment for the Arts. An avid educator, she served as visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University. She also served as director of the Primrose International Viola Competition for three cycles and as president of the American Viola Society.

‘Thula/2LA’ has composed since childhood, studying theory and counterpoint under Dr. Herbert Zipper, Mary Ann Cummins and Warren Spaeth. While at the Curtis Institute of Music her theory teachers included Edward Aldwell, David Loeb and Jennifer Higdon. 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. She is the first composer in residence of the Phoenix Chamber Music Society, appointed in their 57th season.

Nokuthula Ngwenyama plays an Antonius and Hieronymus Amati from 1597, on permanent loan from the Biggs Collection.