Nicolaas Cottenie was born in 1983 and started playing the violin when he was six. He studied jazz violin in the conservatories of Antwerp (Belgium) and Arnhem (The Netherlands). He is currently developing a personal approach to free improvisation, inspired by the concept of Present Time Composition developed by his mentor, Alan Bern.
He is the co-founder of Maggid, a klezmer band looking to broaden the scope of Jewish traditional music into jazz and free improvisation. The band won the “Mosche Beregovski Nachwuchspreis für Klezmerensemble” (Mosche Beregovski Young Artists Award for Klezmer Ensembles) in München (Germany) in 2011, and subsequently played in several German, Dutch, Belgian, and French world music festivals. In the following year the band released its first album, recorded at De Werf in Bruges, on the Zephyrus Records label. Maggid also wrote a new score for the Chaplin classic Modern Times in cooperation with composer Klaas Van Heddeghem. This show toured in Flanders (2012-2014).
Nicolaas is the founder of Zahir Collective. This group plays his compositions, as well as those of some of its other members. In September 2013, the band started a cooperative project with Berlin-based artist Alan Bern to explore his concept "Present Time Composition”, with residences and concerts in, amongst others, De Rataplan (Antwerp, September 2013) and De Werf (Bruges, April 2014).
Nicolaas Cottenie’s many other project include:
Follia: Flemish traditional music (2014)
Les Slovacs and Pulsar Ensemble: Dance (2011) Het Betoog - Het Mannetje met de Bolhoed: Music Theatre (2011) Compagnie La Machine – Symphonie Méchanique (2010) Bolwerk – Cirque de Volonté: Circus (2006)