The Orava Quartet has been hailed by Limelight magazine as “the most exciting young quartet on the block” and predicted by The Australian to become “one of Australia’s proudest cultural exports.” Known for their genuinely thrilling performances, the Quartet – brothers Daniel and Karol Kowalik (violin and cello), violinist David Dalseno and violist Thomas Chawner – bring their unique sound and breathtaking intensity to the classics of the string quartet canon.
Selected by Deutsche Grammophon for its historic, first Australian recording release in 2018, received with widespread critical acclaim, Orava Quartet has performed throughout North America, the UAE, and Asia, as well as playing for Queen Sofia of Spain and Pope Benedict XVI. As graduate Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Colorado (USA), they worked closely with the world-renowned Takács Quartet from 2012-2014, and performed extensively in the US including at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. The Quartet also made their debut at the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall for VIVID Festival with Sufjan Stevens and won 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 performed at major festivals such as New Zealand Festival, Melbourne Festival, Australian Festival of Chamber Music and Huntington Estate Music Festival; the BBC Proms Melbourne; Queensland Music Festival, Canberra International Music Festival, for Sydney Opera House’ renowned Utzon Music Series, Melbourne Recital Centre, Musica Viva Australia and more. Praise for the Quartet’s live performances includes “gut-wrenching… five stars” (ArtsHub), “one of the most exciting voices in the art music world” (Canberra CityNews), and “Wonderfully nuanced.. achieving both discipline and a rare intimacy” (SMH).
Recent performances include at Sydney Opera House Utzon Room, City Recital Hall Angel Place, Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre and the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), for Melbourne Recital Centre’s Southbank Series and the 3MBS Dvorak Marathon; the Tasmanian Chamber Music Festival, Queensland Music Festival, Bangalow Music Festival, UKARIA Cultural Centre (Adelaide) and a tour to Canada including the Festival International Hautes-Laurentides (Québec) and Musique et Autres Mondes Festival (Ottawa). In 2020 – after COVID-19 disruptions – the Quartet performed for Australian Festival of Chamber Music and North Australian Festival of Arts, HOTA Gold Coast for ‘Wonder’ curated by Karin Schaupp, and Melbourne Digital Concert Hall.
In 2021, the Quartet continued as Camerata’s Artist-in-Residence, and performed for Melbourne Recital Centre, Musica Viva Tasmania, Brisbane Music Festival, and began a three-year residency with Bangalow Music Festival. 2022 engagements include Canberra International Music Festival, Blackheath Chamber Music Festival, Riverside Theatres (Sydney) with pianist Simon Tedeschi, Melbourne Recital Centre, UKARIA and the highly anticipated release of their second album for Universal Music/Deutsche Grammophon. The Quartet continue for their eighth proud year ‘in residence’ with Camerata – Queensland’s Chamber Orchestra, and with Bangalow Music Festival.
In addition to the University of Colorado (USA), and Camerata, the quartet has held residencies at Canada’s Banff Arts Centre, and Australia’s Bundanon Trust. Mentored during their undergraduate studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music by Uzi Wiesel, Janet Davies and Ole Böhn, and studying with members of the Jerusalem, Emerson, Julliard, Brentano and Goldner String Quartets, the quartet collaborate with musicians such as harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, violinist Alexandre Da Costa, pianists Tamara-Anna Cislowska and Piers Lane, and sopranos Katie Noonan, and Greta Bradman. Orava Quartet is grateful for the support of private sponsors and Universal Music Australia, the University of Colorado, Australia Council for the Arts, Australian Music Foundation, Ian Potter Cultural Trust Dame Joan Sutherland Fund, PPCA Performers’ Trust Foundation, Ernest Llewellyn Scholarship and Ars Musica Australis. The Quartet also thanks Cultural Partnerships Australia and the Australian Cultural Fund.
For more information visit oravaquartet.com.
ABC Classic FM, live for Musica Viva Tasmania (2017)
In April 2022, the Oravas are heading into the studio to record their much-anticipated second album. The Oravas are open to receiving donations through the Australian Cultural Fund to help support this project. Read more about the project here.
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)
- “The quartet is known for lively and passionate performances, and this was no exception…. a thoroughly enjoyable concert”The Creative Issue, July 2021live review, Brisbane Music Festival
- "The Oravas gave each harmony a different colour, so the harmonic changes became meaningful and profound. They are a quartet who excel at extremes, and this was particularly advantageous in this work. The quiet stillness of the opening, with just the harmonic changes gently emphasised, was atmospheric and beautiful. The full richness they achieved at the work’s centre was all-encompassing, carrying us with them on their journey from lost to found...” 4.5 starsLimelight Magazine, April 2021live review, Hobart Town Hall
- “[a] mighty debut on the renowned Yellow Label.”The Daily Telegraph, Feb 2018album review
- “beauty of tone, uniformity of style, phrasing, dynamics and vibrato, and a broad-sweep approach to musical architecture… Within the next decade, the Orava Quartet will surely take its place as one of the most accomplished string quartets on the planet, continuing in the great tradition of the genre, as well as becoming one of Australia’s proudest cultural exports.” 4.5 starsThe Australian, March 2018album review
- “world class”The Mercury, 2017live review
- “warmth of sound, sublime inner voicing and spontaneity”The Sydney Morning Herald