The Orava Quartet, founded in 2007 by brothers Daniel Kowalik (violin) and Karol Kowalik (cello), Thomas Chawner (viola), and joined in 2011 by David Dalseno (violin), is one of the most exciting string quartets of its generation. Known for their passionate and engaging performances, they have been hailed by The Australian as, “the future of Australian Chamber Music, the real deal.” In an historic signing to Deutsche Grammophon Australia as the label’s first ever recording, Orava Quartet’s debut album was released in February 2018 to widespread critical acclaim.
Showing promise from its earliest beginnings, Orava Quartet has been invited to perform in Canada, the United States, United Arab Emirates, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Philippines, as well as for Queen Sofia of Spain and Pope Benedict XVI. As graduate Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Colorado (USA), they had the privilege of working with the world-renowned Takács Quartet from 2012-2014. During this time the Quartet were selected to be part of the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar in New York City, and toured extensively in the US including at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.. The Quartet also made their debut at the Sydney Opera House for VIVID Festival (in PLANETARIUM: Sufjan Stevans, Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly) and won two major awards at the 2013 Asia Pacific Chamber Music Competition in Melbourne, including the Musica Viva Australia Tony Berg Award for ‘Most Outstanding Australian Ensemble’.
Since returning to Australia, the Orava Quartet has continued its impressive and rapid rise to national attention, earning a reputation for consistently excellent and thrilling performances. Alongside performances for Camerata – Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra, where they continue as 2019 Artist-in-Residence, they have performed at major festivals which include return engagements at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music and Huntington Estate Music Festival; the BBC Proms Melbourne (for which they were named one of the ‘2016 Arts Highlights of the Year’ by arts luminary, Robyn Archer); Queensland Music Festival, Melbourne Festival (where they were again one of the ‘Top 10 Picks’ of the Festival, in the Herald Sun), the Musica Viva Festival, Brisbane Baroque, and more.
2018 heralds the release of Orava Quartet’s long-awaited debut album for Universal Music, for worldwide release on Deutsche Grammophon Australia alongside performances for New Zealand Festival, Sydney Opera House’s Utzon Music Series, Melbourne Recital Centre, Canberra International Music Festival, Darwin Entertainment Centre and more. 2019 engagements include concerts in Melbourne Recital Centre’s Southbank Series, at City Recital Hall Angel Place and the Art Gallery of NSW (Sydney), UKARIA Cultural Centre (Adelaide), and festivals and other concert series in Tasmania, Newcastle, Brisbane, Ballarat and Geelong. They also perform concerts with pianist Simon Tedeschi, and soprano Greta Bradman.
In addition to the University of Colorado, and Camerata, the quartet has held residencies at the Banff Arts Centre in Canada, the Bundanon Trust in Australia, and studied with members of the Jerusalem, Emerson, St Lawrence, Schoenberg, Julliard, Brentano and Goldner String Quartets. Mentored during their undergraduate studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music by Uzi Wiesel, Janet Davies and Ole Böhn, the quartet regularly collaborate with musicians such as harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, trumpet soloist Paul Merkelo, the Goldner Quartet, pianists Piers Lane, Tamara-Anna Cislowska, Olga Kern; singers Katie Noonan, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, and guitarists Slava Grigoryan and Karin Schaupp.
Orava Quartet is grateful for the support of private sponsors and the University of Colorado, the Australia Council for the Arts, Australian Music Foundation, Musica Viva, Ian Potter Cultural Trust Dame Joan Sutherland Fund, PPCA Performers’ Trust Foundation, Ernest Llewellyn Scholarship and Ars Musica. Daniel, David and Thomas play on instruments by contemporary American luthiers David Gusset and Ryan Soltis, and Karol on a French, 19th century cello.
For more information visit oravaquartet.com.
Review by Nicholas Routley (Australian Stage) of the Orava Quartet’s live performance at the Bangalow Music Festival 2016: “The Orava quartet … showed with this performance that they have arrived, not merely on the international scene, but somewhere near its apex. I have known and loved this quartet [Schubert D minor string quartet] for 60 years, and I have never heard a better performance of it. From the uncompromising non-vibrato of the opening phrase to the ineffable sweeties of the close of the slow movement; from the commitment to every note in the score to the tightness of the ensemble playing, which made the whole even greater than the sum of its brilliant parts; from the deep seriousness with which they approached the piece to the risks they successfully took with the terrifying textures of the tarantella finale – this was a complete performance, of one of the towering works in the entire string quartet genre. No-one who heard this performance will ever forget it.”
“Elegant style and musical maturity… an engaging sweetness of tone. That ease, of course, only comes with time and effort, and their impeccable balance and pinpoint intonation is clearly a product of intense listening… The hymn-like Adagio with its radiant tonal explorations found the group at their very finest… The Minuet with its softly chuntering cello solo (magical playing from Karol Kowalik) was a gas, the finale a riot of rip-roaring musical japery.” – Limelight Magazine, 2016 (live review)