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Musical World

Nokuthula Ngwenyama

  • Violinist
  • Violist


Nokuthula Ngwenyama press reviews

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 EnquirerRelated Link
John Fleming's CD picks: John Miller, Eroica Trio, Nokuthula Ngwenyama
"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 TimesRelated Link
Listening Post /Brief reviews of select releases
"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 NewsRelated Link
Conservative Generation, at Least When Composing
"Nokuthula Ngwenyama gave the piece an incendiary reading." Read More...— Allan Kozinn, New York TimesRelated Link
What our critics are listening to
"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 ChronicleRelated Link
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 PostRelated Link
Viola player defies definitions
"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 ColoradoanRelated Link
FC Symphony Concert to Mark Special Reunion Between Conductor and Musician
"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 NowRelated Link
Spin of the Week
"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
Violist, CCO offer graceful Schubert
"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."
Read More...— Mary Ellyn Hutton, Cincinnati PostRelated Link
CCO, violist are delightful
"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 EnquirerRelated Link
"... she provides solidly shaped music of bold, mesmerizing character."— Gramophone
"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