Nokuthula Endo Ngwenyama

“Mother of Peace” and “Lion” in Zulu, Nokuthula Ngwenyama’s performances as orchestral soloist, recitalist and chamber musician garner great attention.  Gramaphone proclaims her as “providing solidly shaped music of bold mesmerizing character.”  As a composer, Uptown Magazine featured her “A Poet of Sound.”

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.

This 2022-23 season Ms. Ngwenyama joins Jaime Laredo, Sharon Robinson and Anna Polansky for piano quartets including Elegy written for the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio.  Supported in memory of Carole and Harry Hoffheimer and world premiered last season with the Linton Chamber Series, co-commissioner summer performances at Brattleboro Music Center, Hudson Valley Chamber Music Circle and Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival were received with much acclaim.  The premiere tour continues with Arizona Friends of Music, Chamber Music Monterrey Bay, Chamber Music Northwest, the Kennedy Center, Peoples’ Symphony Concerts, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and Phoenix Chamber Music Society.

As a member of the group Umama Womama, Ms Ngwenyama joins fellow instrumentalists and composers Valerie Coleman and Han Lash on the New School Concerts performing their jointly written trio commissioned by Chamber Music Northwest, Phoenix Chamber Music Society and Clarion Concerts.  Ms. Ngwenyama appears with Ms. Coleman, the Elixir Piano Trio and the Phoenix Boys Choir on Composers’ Choice, an annual co-production of Phoenix Chamber Music Society, ASU Kerr Cultural Center and Peace Mama Productions she curates, performing Arizona Duets for violin and viola and the world premiere of Finding the Dream, commissioned by John Clements and the Phoenix Boys Choir.  Primal Message, an homage to the Arecibo message that received its orchestral world premiere with Maestro Xian Zhang and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 2020, continues to receive performances worldwide, including with the London Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Phoenix Symphony St. Louis Symphony and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra virtual broadcast. 

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. 

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.  She also appeared on Sylvia Kunin’s Emmy-nominated ‘A Musical Encounter’ series with host Lynn Harrell and was 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 Superieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris and received a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School.  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.

‘sounds get along not necessarily through traditional harmonic consonance (although there is plenty of that), but through a kind of rightness of being.’

Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times