Headshot of Nokuthula Ngwenyama © Mark Morgan

Nokuthula Ngwenyama

United States

Last updated: October 12, 2021

Nokuthula Ngwenyama

(Born in 1976)

“Mother of Peace and “Lion” in Zulu, Nokuthula Ngwenyama garners great attention for her performances as orchestral soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician. Gramophone magazine 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. A recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant, she has performed with orchestras and as recitalist the world over.

Recent highlights include the premieres of her works Rising for solo multitrack violin and pedals, and Primal Message for viola quintet, performed with the Dover Quartet. Her first viola concerto, commissioned by Christopher Biggs and Irene Marquez Biggs and recorded with the Janáček Philharmonic, is to be released on Peace Mama Productions (PMP) in fall 2021.

Her work Finding the Dream, commissioned by John Clements and written in response to the murder of George Floyd and Martin Luther King’s iconic I Have a Dream speech, received its world premiere with the Phoenix Boys Choir through joint digital emission with ASU/Kerr Cultural Center and the Colburn School. Primal Message for percussion, harp, and strings, an homage to the Arecibo message, received an orchestral world premiere with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on their digital DSO series. Bella Hristova premiered her work Miasma for solo violin—largely based on Covid-19 proteins—on the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis Laureate Series in March 2021.  

Born in Los Angeles, California of Zimbabwean-Japanese parentage, Nokuthula Ngwenyama (No-koo-TOO-lah En-gwen-YAH-mah) is the first composer in residence of the Phoenix Chamber Music Society and plays on an Antonius and Hieronymus Amati viola from 1597, on permanent loan from the Biggs Collection.


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