Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nokuthula Ngwenyama, 3: 'I cannot tell you how much support I have from Africans...all over the continent!'

[Rubinstein Sonatas; Sonata for Viola and Piano, Op. 49; Sonata No. 1 in G Major for Violin and Piano, Op. 13; Nokuthula Ngwenyama, viola and violin; Jennifer Lim, piano; EDI Records (2008)]

Nokuthula Ngwenyama, http://www.Ngwenyama.com, was born in California in 1976 and has been featured at AfriClassical.com since 2005. She will begin her term as President of the American Viola Society in June. AfriClassical interviewed Nokuthula Ngwenyama by phone on Jan. 13, 2011. Part 1 of the interview appeared Jan. 15, and Part 2 on Jan. 17. Today we present the final segment of the interview, Part 3:

I wanted to be sure to ask you about the Anton Rubinstein recording; I think that's the favorite of mine. The others I have are Ballade with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and J.S. Bach Partitas. I think I have played the Rubinstein Sonatas more than the other two, with yourself and Jennifer Lim on piano. You played viola for the first piece and violin for the second?
That must be an interesting transition sometimes!
It can be, but I think if you just have the sense of sound in your head, then it kind of happens a little bit more quickly. It's easier to go from smaller to bigger than from bigger to smaller.
But I've gotten more used to it since I've been playing both instruments more, that I can do it pretty quickly.
I wanted to ask you about this violin which I believe was purchased for you by your husband?
Freeman Adams Oliver, yes! No, I still haven't received it!
Oh, I see!
He purchased it and then it is being set up by someone in Boston right now. I guess the person who's setting it up hasn't gotten around to cutting the new bridge for it, so we're just waiting to receive it!
The provenance is very fascinating, though!
It is! It really is very exciting! I cannot wait to play it! I know it's a strad model, so I think it's going to have a lot of sweetness to it, but I will definitely let you know once I get it!
We'll be fascinated to hear it, because it has such a particular history!
Yes, yes!
You got very good reviews on Rubinstein Sonatas; I wasn't the only one who got a lot of satisfaction out of it! It was very well reviewed in Strings Magazine and other places.
Oh thanks! If you believe the good reviews, you have to believe the bad reviews, so of course it feels good when people say positive things!
Well if there have been any bad ones they didn't come to my attention!
Well thank you, I'm glad!
The J.S. Bach has been fun, and the Coleridge-Taylor, matched with works of Grieg and Debussy, was an interesting program too! Do you have any other recordings you can talk about?
I've been thinking, but with all of the things that have been happening, family and small children, and also the teaching that I was doing the last three years...
You were at two different schools, weren't you?
Yes, I was at University of Notre Dame for a year, and then I was at Indiana University for two years.
That's the Jacobs School of Music?
Yes. I really enjoyed teaching. I really enjoyed working with the students at both schools.
I see that you have a five day commitment coming up in Tokyo?
Oh yes! It's a festival!
The Chanel Ginza?
Yes, yes!
What is that like?
To tell you the truth, I've never done it. I've been asked a couple times to do it, but I wasn't available. This year I said “Okay, I'll do it!”
They have you performing something like 5 days out of 9?
Yes, it's a festival that has a concert every day!
They have you I believe on June 14, 15, 17, 18 and 19?
Yes, and the programs aren't even set yet!
But those are the dates of the concerts.
Do you have any idea if you will be playing with particular people?
I will be playing a mixture of chamber and solo stuff.
Do you know any of the musicians who will be there?
I know some of them. It's basically going to be a mixed bag. We'll all be doing solo, we'll be doing chamber music, on different days, so we don't have all the heaviness of having to do lots of solo stuff.
It sounds like it could be pretty interesting?
It's going to be a lot of fun! I know because I know other people who've done that, and they say it's very intense but it's a lot of fun!
Is there anything I didn't touch on yet that you would like to comment on?
I notice that you have the website in French as well as English; what was the reason for that? I have that connection, having studied in Paris for a couple of years.
It was because of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges.
I felt he had appeal in both the French and English cultures.
I knew that many people in Africa spoke French.
Yes, I think it's fantastic! That actually leads me to a couple things that I wanted to mention. One, upcoming projects, I'm not sure what they're going to be, but I have a feeling its going to be more video...
Oh, I see!
I am kind of moving into that realm. I think obviously you want a good performance, but that people want to see you play, not just hear you play!
Yes. So I am moving in the direction of doing many more videos. Exactly which repertoire I'm not sure. It could be more traditional. There's a recording with orchestra which is kind of in the mix right now. We've been working on this project, trying to make it work. There's a piece by Adolphus Hailstork for violin and chamber orchestra that I want to record. So that's something that I've been thinking a lot about. It's kind of in the idea realm. That's one thing. The second thing, speaking about that connection with people who are connected with classical music in Africa, I cannot tell you how much support I have from Africans! Especially Southern Africans, but really Africans all over the continent!
There's a website from Zimbabwe that has a feature on you.
Oh, Zimbabwe! Zimbabwe, South Africa, people have really embraced me actually! They really love the fact that I play classical music! I think it's just fantastic!
You played with the KwaZulu-Natal Orchestra, I think twice?
Yes! In fact, now KwaZulu-Natal is partnering up with Sphinx, presenting Sphinx's winners!
That's a new partnership that's really exciting too! They're a wonderful orchestra, and there's a lot of support in Africa for classical musicians!
We just had a contact this week from the symphony orchestra in Congo-Kinshasa!
Oh, fantastic!
We had done a couple of posts on Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste after seeing a report by a French news agency.
They've been operating for a few years and are gradually getting some outside attention as well. The Head of the Cooperation Department signed our Guest Book.
Oh great! People don't realize that there is this connection, this excitement about classical music in Africa! I think people will say, “Oh, well why would there be?” but there is! There has been and it continues to be. I would say even on my Facebook and the people who follow me on Twitter and things like that, I meet a lot of people from Africa! A lot of support from Africa! So it's really been wonderful! That's something I definitely wanted to touch on.
Is there anything else you'd like to comment on today?
I don't think so! I've really enjoyed talking with you and I just really love the work that you do online! It's so important!
Well I really do appreciate that!
I'm going to put another link from my website to the blog. I tell people all the time, “Check out this blog!” I even Twittered that I was doing an interview with AfriClassical today!
Excellent! I want to thank you very much!
It's nice talking to you and I will let you know about that violin when I get it!
Okay, I'll look forward to it!
See you in Cyberspace!
Goodbye now!

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