Thursday, June 16, 2011

Violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama, Born June 16, 1976, is New President of American Viola Society

[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 is an American violist and violinist of Zimbabwean and Japanese descent. She was born June 16, 1976, and grew up in Southern California. Her earliest musical instruments were the piano and the violin. At age 12 she switched to viola because she was attracted to its sound. A few years ago the American Viola Society said: “Nokuthula Ngwenyama is recognized as one of the foremost instrumentalists of her generation.”

Nokuthula Ngwenyama has been profiled as a Musician of African Descent at for several years, and is featured frequently on AfriClassical Blog. Her own website is Nokuthula has several recordings on the EDI Records label, including Rubinstein Sonatas, which has been very well received and is widely available on major music websites. Writing in The Democrat and Chronicle on Dec. 5, 2008, music critic Anna Reguero said of the disc “The Rubinstein Sonatas, often overlooked, offer a touching portrait of Romanticism.”

Nokuthula has been a rising star in the viola world since she won the Primrose Competition at age 17. She directed that competition for 6 years, even while teaching at two universities and performing virtually nonstop. She recently was the Duncanson Artist-in-Residence in Cincinnati, and also performed a series of 6 concerts with

Here is an excerpt from our interview on January 13, 2011:
Now, this is the year, I believe, that you actually take office as President of the American Viola Society?
Yes, it is.
You've been, for three years, the President-Elect?
For three years I've been the President-Elect, and I will take office in June of this year.
I see. Actually, Juliet White-Smith...
Is the current President.
I actually interviewed her once!
Well she's done a great job for the organization! She's going to be a hard act to follow, actually! She has really implemented great programs and kept people on the right path, so to speak!
So you like the general direction that things are going?
I really do, with the American Viola Society! But the American Viola Society does so many things, including the Primrose International Viola Competition. I've been the Director for that for the last six years.
Well, then you're pretty thoroughly involved in what they do!
Yes, I am! So it's going to be hard to kind of give up the reins of the Competition to run the entire Viola Society, but on the other hand, you can't do both! So this is my last year being Director of the Primrose International Viola Competition, which takes place this June, and from that I will just transition to being President of the entire Viola Society.
It sounds like quite a major transition.
It is!
Is it a full-time position?
No. Right now, being the Director of the Competition is a full-time position, because we're six months out from the Competition! So that is taking a lot of my time!
I see.
In addition to having to prepare for concerts and travel, and also be a mother to two young children, it's very difficult!
How old are your children?
I have a four-year-old, and I have a 19-month-old.
Yes, I would see that as quite a challenge!
It really is!
The 19-month-old, is that a boy?
Yes. A girl and a boy!
They have a good chance of being musically inclined!
Well, they seem to enjoy it! My daughter is already taking piano...
Yes, she loves it! In fact every morning she races downstairs and says “Mommy, can I play the piano?”
So, “Sure you can! That's fine!” She loves it! In fact I have to kind of say “Sophia, no more piano. You have to go to school. You can play when you get home.” “Okay, okay!” She wants to stay and play.

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