David Downes
David Downes 


David Downes is a New Zealand born composer/performer/film-maker. His compositions have included private and public commissions, theatre/film scores, orchestral works, electro-acoustic pieces, and songwriting. Since 1988 he has also made a considerable contribution to modern choreographic work in New Zealand with his contemporary dance scores.

David's music has been commissioned and performed by ensembles such as the New Zealand Chamber Orchestra, NZTrio, Stroma (NZ), Defying Gravity (Aus), BackBeat (UK) and Strike (NZ). His recorded sound and video work have been presented at international Music, Film, Arts and Literature Festivals, and galleries picking up several awards. His music, although broad in both style and form, clearly draws its main influence from popular culture and is strengthened by several years of classical piano training and a graduate degree in music composition. It generally shares a common ground of solid, often complex, rhythmic structures, and has been described as intense, haunting and evocative.

Performances by David (keyboards, vocals, guitar, drums, electronics), notably include a nine month tour of China, extensive work with Mahinarangi Tocker including two southern hemisphere Womad festival appearances, and a tour of the highly acclaimed 1999 Dance Opera 'Jerusalem' for which he both composed the 2.5 hour score and performed live as one of seven singers. David has also presented several lectures on his work as a composer and film maker at universities and festival events.

Having lived and worked in New Zealand, the UK and China, David has collaborated with musicians from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, the influence of which can be heard in many of his pieces. His interest in video/film developed as a natural extension from his approach to music and sonic art. This has led to work in experimental music video, long form narrative filmmaking, animation and computer generated imagery and has resulted in the production of several award winning films including the 2000 digital feature 'a small life' his 2004 animated short Generation, and Kingdom for animated film and Piano Trio (2010). His experimental video work has also been exhibited in gallery installations around the world.

Fascinated with the language of metaphor and believing in the strength of the medium hybrid, David often looks to other disciplines in the process of creating and realising ideas. His interest in technology and engineering has sparked an ongoing design and construction of new instruments and noise devices that have been employed in various projects. These include motorised drum machines, simple harmonic feedback drivers for electric guitar, a battery of electromechanical percussion instruments and a midi/servo driven acoustic string instrument. For a year he also experimented with training a magpie for the specific purpose of performing an original composition.

David currently lives and works in Wellington New Zealand.