Monday, June 16, 2008

Nokuthula Ngwenyama, African American Violist and Violinist Born June 16, 1976

[Photo by Darla Furlani]

Nokuthula Ngwenyama
is an acclaimed American violist and violinist of Zimbabwean-Japanese heritage who is profiled at She is also a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Notre Dame. She records on the EDI Records label. Her new website is

"Thula", as she is known to her friends, was born in Southern California on June 16, 1976. Her parents divorced when she was quite young, and she was raised in the home of a family friend. Thula's earliest musical instruments were the piano and the violin. She faced resistance at first, as she explains at her original website,

"My father, a Ndebele man from Zimbabwe, discouraged me from the start. 'Why are you playing this white man's music?' he would ask. He didn't understand that this kind of music spoke to me in a way not affected by race."

Her faculty profile at the website of the Department of Music of the University of Notre Dame reads: “Highlights of Ms. Ngwenyama’s past two seasons include repeat appearances with Christopher Seaman and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra in Durban, South Africa, as well as appearances with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Additionally, she 'fascinated on the viola and violin during a recital' (The Washington Post) at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D. C. and with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.”

Nokuthula is represented by Herbert Barrett Management, whose website notes: “Ms. Ngwenyama's performance at the White House, commemorating the 10th anniversary of NPR's
Performance Today, also featured artists Wynton Marsalis, James Galway, and Murray Perahia. A vivid portrait of Ms. Ngwenyama was televised nationally on CBS Sunday Morning with cultural correspondent Eugenia Zukerman.”

Ngwenyama chaired the 2008 edition of the triennial Primrose International Viola Competition. She will appear on July 21 at the Vail Valley Music Festival; July 22 at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek, Colorado; and July 28, July 30 and August 1 at Cerro Coso College-Mammoth Lakes Music Festival, among other events.

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