Fine Artistry On A Cold Sunday Afternoon Warms Audiences

Concert Review - The Newtown Bee, Friday, March 14, 2003

by June S April

It's just a matter of time until one of two recording companies will
have contracted with violist Nokuthula Ngwenyama to put out her first
compact disc and she is excited about the immediacy of the project. In
the meantime her schedule is filled with recitals around the United States.
To hear her is to appreciate fine artistry.

A March 9 performance by Ms Ngwenyama at Edmond Town Hall in Newtown offered
a program that ranged from Bach to Anton Rubinstein, with contrasting
music of Mozart and Hindemith included. What was exemplified was both
the technical mastery and passion for the music that this young woman
was performing.

Her accompanist, Melvin Chen, is one of those extraordinarily multi-gifted
people. With a doctorate in chemistry from Harvard, and a bachelor of
science in physics and chemistry from Yale, the congenial and charming
gentleman also holds a double masters for piano and violin, which he earned
at the Juilliard School of Music in New York. Dr Chen is a Visiting Professor
at Bard College and works with its respected and innovative conductor,
Leon Botstein.

Somewhere there is also time to teach piano as a faculty member of Yale.
He began his piano studies at age 3 and violin studies at 5 years of age.
There are credits beyond space allotted here.

A dynamic musical duo, the energy and balance between Ms Ngwenyama and
Dr Chen were sensitive and introspective. The romantic music of Anton
Rubinstein's Sonata in F minor for Viola and Piano, Opus 49, is not as
well known as his Melodie in F (for piano) but this composition presents
a challenge to any performer.

Opening the concert with the Sonata for Viol and Keyboard in D, BWV 1028
by Johannes Sebastian Bach, Ms Ngwenyama and Dr Chen offered an intellectual
execution of this master's work. The third movement, Andante, was particularly
intriguing because of the contrast in the melodic pattern.

The scope - from Baroque to the atonal work of Paul Hindemith - may not
have been enjoyed by members of the audience as much as the beautiful
Duo for Violin and Viola in B-flat, K.424, by Mozart, but even the children
(about two dozen) in the audience were spellbound by the performing on
stage. There were none of these extraneous noises, like coughing, rustling,
or whispering.

Once again, the Newtown Friends of Music - the concert's sponsor - brought
to Edmond Town Hall outstanding musicians whose talent is enjoyed throughout
the world.