Mbali Phato

Mbali is from Meadowlands, Soweto, and started playing the violin at the age of 8. She joined the Morris Isaacson Centre for Music soon after, and studied under Kabelo Monnathebe and Claudia Dehnke through ARCO.

She has had masterclasses from Tamsin Waley-Cohen, Oliver Wille, Jiafeng Chen and Jan Repko. Through ARCO Exchange, she was able to travel to the UK at the age of 12, to perform at the Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition, and spend a week boarding at the Chethams School.

She contributed so much to the ensembles at MICM and the festivals run by the ARCO Project during her school career. She was also a founding member of the project's Wakanda Book Club, championing African writers.

She was the leader of the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra, attended and performed at the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival twice, and was selected to perform as a soloist with the Rand Symphony Orchestra.

She was awarded full cultural and academic colours by her school, St. Catherine's Convent. Mbali was accepted to study Medicine at the University of Cape Town following her fantastic Matric results.

She still insists on practising, having violin lessons and playing in the university orchestra.