Walter Kitundu

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Walter Jesse Kitundu (born July 3, 1973) is a musical instrument builder, graphic artist, and musical composer from San Francisco, California.


Kitundu was born in Rochester, Minnesota and spent his early years in Tanzania. He returned to Minnesota from age 8 to 25, then moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in approximately 1998. He currently lives in Chicago.

Career and Works[edit]

Phonoharp on exhibit at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco

Described as a renaissance man, Kitundu is inventor of the "phonoharp", a stringed instrument incorporating a phonograph. After hearing the instrument, the Kronos Quartet hired Kitundu as their "instrument builder in residence". In addition to a phonoharp he also built a "phonoharp" for each of the quartet's members.[1] For the song "Tèw semagn hagèré" on their 2009 album Floodplain, he created new instruments inspired by the begena, an Ethiopian 10-string lyre.[2]

As of 2008 Kitundu is a "Multimedia Artist" with the Exploratorium, artist in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts, and a Distinguished visiting professor of "Wood Arts" at the California College of the Arts.[1]

Kitundu is also a wildlife photographer, with a specialty in hawks and other raptors.


In September 2008, Kitundu won a MacArthur fellowship.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Sam Whiting (2008-09-23). "MacArthur awarded to Walter Kitundu". San Francisco Chronicle.
  2. ^ Tsioulcas, Anastasia (2009). Floodplain (CD booklet). Kronos Quartet. Nonesuch Records. #518349.

External links[edit]