David Kotlowy is an Adelaide-based composer who has worked in cross-cultural and cross-discipline collaborations for over 30 years.
'the fruit of a sincere, prolonged collaboration between Asian and Australian musicians and aesthetics.... cross-cultural exploration at its finest'
(Jacinta Thompson, Artistic Director, OzAsia Festivals 2008-2013).
David has pursued learning Javanese and Japanese music alongside his Western training as a composer and performer. He is a shakuhachi student of Sensei Kaoru Kakizakai and Okuda Atsuya, and was composer-in-residence for Osaka-based Gamelan ensembles, Marga Sari and Dharma Budaya. These residencies culminated in performances at the 2008 Space Ten New Music Festival, where he was a featured composer and performer.
In Lieu, a collaboration with Indonesian/Australian choreographer, Ade Suharto, and visual artist Mawarini was commissioned and premiered by the 2011 OzAsia Festival. The work was subsequently premiered in Europe as the only Australian work presented in Gamelanathon, the 25th Anniversary of the Southbank Gamelan Players, in London, 2013.
Between 2013 and 2014, Kotlowy composed a trio of song cycles. Koibitotachi (The Lovers) is inspired by the Japanese tanka poetic form, and imagines a correspondence between lovers, a Japanese woman and a French man. Shaped by both cultures, the music is informed by Western and Japanese sonorities, using multiple tunings of the guitar, tonalities reminiscent of the biwa and koto, and extended vocal techniques.
Lagu Cinta (Love Songs) is a contemporary reinvention of traditional Indonesian art forms of song and ritual. The words of contemporary Indonesian poet, Sitok Srengenge, are set for for soprano, tenor, and slendro gamelan. The music features qualities of Western minimalism - repetition, incremental rhythmic changes, and dynamic tensions between the vocal and instrumental lines. The two song cycles reveal sensuality primarily concealed in Kotlowy's earlier work, and were premiered in an evening of his music, Heart to Heart, OzAsia Festival 2013.
Mitithi (Stolen), "a devastating vocal meditation on the desolation of Indigenous people", was premiered by Halcyon Ensemble and Soundstream Collective in Adelaide and Sydney in 2014.
In 2018, Patina, a cross-cultural collaboration with calligrapher and visual artist Juno Oka, choreographers Ade Suharto and Shin Sakuma, premiered at OzAsia Festival 2018. Highly praised, it was shortlisted for the 2018 Adelaide Critics Circle Award for Innovation.
Kotlowy received a $50,000 ArtsSA Fellowship in 2019 to participate in residencies with gamelan ensembles in Ireland, the UK, and Japan.
An anthology of his piano music recorded by Stephen Whittington is available on de la Catessen records and via Bandcamp. https://davidkotlowy.bandcamp.com/
The Benaud Trio is currently recording Kotlowy's complete piano trios for release in 2023.