During the course of the year Omega Ensemble invites guests artists from around Australia and sometimes, the other side of the world, to perform in their concerts. In our upcoming concert, Schubert's Trout, we are delighted to have violinist Alexandra Osborne performing with us.
We caught up with Alexandra prior to her arrival and asked her a few questions about her music career and why she loves Schubert's music.
1. When did you first start playing the violin and what drew you to it?
I first picked up the violin at the age of 4. The story goes that I began to have interest in it as young as 2 years old, because my older brother was doing it and I wanted to be just like him! His violin career didn't last too long, but no worries, I have probably played and practiced plenty for the two of us in the past 30 years. I started piano too, which I enjoyed so very much for a long time, before sticking with the violin. I often tell people that I have the best job in the world. My dear violin has taken me all over the world and I have met such amazing people everywhere because of it. Music truly does bring us together and I feel so lucky to share that with so many different people. The best part of being a performer is that I get to make people feel something, anything, even from one phrase of music!
2. What do you love most about performing chamber music?
Cliché yes - but honestly - the freedom, expression, close interaction, responsibility and excitement that comes with playing so closely with a small amount of musicians. Also the vulnerability of letting go with some of your closest friends or even new friends, and the combination of everyone's expertise and experience pooling together into this awesome vessel of sound and expression. Chamber music fulfills me in every possible way as a musician and as a person, and I can't live without it - because it's some of the best repertoire out there (Beethoven Quartets. Wow.) AND the spontaneity of it can't be replicated. I could write a whole essay on how much I love chamber music :)
3. What have been some of your most memorable musical experiences?
During the course of my very fortunate career I've had the opportunity to perform with some amazing musicians, orchestras, and conductors. So here, in no particular order, are some of my most memorable musical experiences:
- BBC Proms in Royal Albert Hall
- Performing at the Berlin Philharmonie
- Carnegie Hall - always an exciting experience
- Sydney Opera House and beyond with the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
- National Symphony Orchestra's concert with Christop Eschenbach - Verdi Requiem. His first NSO concert.
- Smithsonian American History Museum in Washington DC performing on the “King Louis XIV” Amati violin.
- Dvorak Piano Quintet with Christoph Eschenbach at the piano
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's tours to the European Music Festivals.
4. What are you most looking forward to about performing with Omega Ensemble in this upcoming concert?
This will be my first official appearance with the Omega Ensemble, and I can't wait to share the stage with such great musicians and in a beautiful concert hall. David Rowden and I have known and respected each other for a very very long time, and it will be so fun and an honour to perform as grown ups after all these years! Not to mention swapping stories and experiences from the past few years. It is always an amazing experience for me to come back to Sydney and perform in my hometown. I know that Omega is one of the premiere ensembles out there, and I'm so thrilled to be a part of this and the September concert. This will be on my highlights list for sure!
5. Schubert is one of those composers of ‘all time’ and there is a special quality to his music. Why do you think that audiences still love Schubert, and what do you love about Schubert, in particular the Trout and the Octet in F Major.
Franz Schubert transcended pretty much every musical genre - his String Quartets sit among the best of Haydn and Mozart. His symphonies exist with Beethoven's, the incredible amount of songs he completed that are so widely adored, and the many piano works that inspired Schumann and Chopin. I think audiences love to listen to Schubert because of his mastery and brilliance of melody, musical form and his ability to transfix us as the music turns corners. How sublime is his Cello Quintet? It's probably one of the most beautiful pieces of chamber music ever written. And he accomplished all of this output by the age of 31.
As for the Trout, it is very light, fun, melodious, easy to listen to, and the unusual and interesting combination of instruments including the bass make it extra special! The story goes that Schubert had been out late drinking, and sat down to compose Die Forelle, the song of "The Trout" which became the basis of the quintet. To me, this is Schubert at his most natural, so unaffected and carefree. There is so much innocence and playfulness throughout the piece, and no sadness or anxiety which come in his later compositions. The Octet is the largest instrumentation of any of Schubert's chamber works, and I think this is a prime example of him mixing the light and the dark so much more wisely than any other composer. Not to mention the genius and the balance of all eight instruments and perfect coordination with one another.
I'm stoked to play both pieces on the same program!
Catch Alexandra in our next concert Schubert's Trout on 27 July at City Recital Hall. New tickets have just been released.