Meet the Soloist: Mattea Osenk
Meet Mattea Osenk, viola soloist in the Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra concert on Friday 19 August. Mattea will be performing William Walton's viola concerto, in a concert that also features music by Graeme Koehne and a new work by Hannah Wilkinson.
Born and raised in Adelaide, Mattea started her journey as a violist at the age of 7. She began her studies at the Elder Conservatorium in 2019 under the tutelage of Keith Crellin OAM, and is now in her honours year learning from Stephen King. During her degree, Mattea has been a recipient of the Varley Scholarship and Exhibition and The Gustav Reimers prize (2021).
A keen orchestral player, she currently performs casually with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, as well as holding the Principal Viola position in the Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. Mattea has also participated in the Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camps held in Melbourne and is looking forward to attending many more of their programs in the future.
Mattea's passion for chamber music led her to form the Martelia Trio with friends from the Conservatorium, Maria Zhdanovich and Natalia Beos. A recent highlight was the trio's performance in the Art of the Possible Festival in 2021.
In the future, Mattea hopes to play in a professional orchestra and chamber group, as well as performing around Australia and overseas.
Q & A
Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in Adelaide, South Australia, but my heritage is Bosnian; my family moved here from Former Yugoslavia during the Civil War.
How is your experience studying at the Elder Conservatorium of Music so far?
The three and a half years I have spent at the Elder Conservatorium will forever remain the most fundamental years of my development as a musician. The environment here has allowed me to develop such a nurturing support system and create friendships that will remain for life. I have been lucky to have two incredible teachers during my time here; Keith Crellin and Stephen King, whom I have learned so much from. I have also learned and grown so much through the classes here as well as the ensembles I am apart of, who are directed by passionate and generous mentors. I have been able to achieve things I wouldn’t have dreamed of before my time at the Conservatorium and I will always be grateful for the incredible opportunities I received, and inspiring teachers and mentors who have helped me every step of the way.
What year of study are you in?
I am currently in my Honours year of my Bachelor of Music, my final year at Adelaide Uni.
Tell us something about the piece that you are going to perform with ECSO.
William Walton was not fond of the viola initially; in fact he believed it made a rather awful sound. This was until 1928, when conductor Sir Thomas Beecham suggested to Walton that he compose a work for the virtuoso violist Lionel Tertis. Tertis rejected it in the end as he thought it was ‘too modern’ and Walton nearly rewrote the entire work for violin!
I believe the Walton Viola Concerto is the great viola concerto because it showcases the personality of the instrument: dark and lyrical, but also a little bit cheeky. I am so excited to share the beauty of the viola in which Walton has seamlessly captured in his concerto.
Can you describe your experience playing as a soloist with the Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra?
My experience as a soloist with ECSO has been wonderful, being able to perform alongside my peers has turned what initially felt quite daunting, into such a joyful process. Luke Dollman’s wisdom and guidance as a conductor has made the past few weeks of putting this program together a very rewarding journey.
What are your future plans as a musician; are you planning to go overseas?
Currently I am in the midst of several auditions for interstate institutions such as ANAM and Sydney Conservatorium. My favourite part about being a violist is orchestral and chamber music, so my goal in the future is to hold a Principal position in an orchestra in Australia and form a chamber group. The idea of going overseas is really appealing and I definitely would like to go over there for music one day, but for now I feel there is a lot I would like to explore musically in Australia.
How did you start learning your instrument?
My older sister learned piano at Allegro Music here in Adelaide, and I attended her end-of-year concert when I was around the age of 7. A girl sitting next to me was holding a violin-looking instrument and I immediately turned to my mum who was sitting on the other side of me and said to her “I want to play that”, not knowing it was a viola. Thinking I was about to start learning violin, I had quite a shock when I had my first viola lesson shortly after!
Can you tell us anything special about your instrument?
There are so many beautiful characteristics of the viola which unfortunately many composers had overlooked when composing concertos and other repertoire for solo instruments. Today I am very lucky to be playing on a 1948 Arthur Edward Smith Viola, generously loaned to me by Keith Crellin. I have been playing on this instrument for 3 months and I absolutely love the rich and dark timbre of this viola.
Who is your musical inspiration?
I love to listen to violists such as Nobuko Imai and Antoine Tamestit. A concert that I attended recently that has really inspired me musically would be the Hilary Hahn and Sydney Symphony Orchestra concert performing Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 1. In fact, the Walton Viola Concerto and the Prokofiev share a lot in common compositionally. It is said that Walton was inspired by the Prokofiev Violin Concerto at the time of composing the viola concerto.
For more information on the Lunchtime Concert Series, visit the website.