Q&A with Kate Oswin from the Behn Quartet

Friday, 16 March 2018

(From left to right: Kate Oswin, Lydia Abell, Alicia Berendse and Ghislaine McMullin). 


Christchurch born violinist Kate Oswin is coming back to NZ this April, with the Behn Quartet. The UK based quartet will tour the length of the country, from Kerikeri to Invercargill. We caught up with Kate to talk repertoire, violin and the Quartet's NZ hit list.


How did you come to start playing the violin?

I started playing the violin when I was five - my parents were actually trying to guide me towards the cello, but I demanded to learn the violin like my older brother apparently! Everyone plays an instrument in my family, so my house growing up was always filled with music.


How did you meet the other members of your quartet?

We all met doing our Masters at the Royal Academy. At the Academy there is an intensive string quartet programme which we auditioned for when we first got together just over two years ago, and things moved very quickly from there!


How did you choose you repertoire for this tour?

I first met Jack Body when I was at high school - he came in one day and I had an individual composition lesson with him on a piece I had written for full orchestra. I remember feeling quite in awe of him! His 'Three Transcriptions' was actually the first work we selected for our tour - I was researching NZ works to include in our programmes and came across a YouTube video of the NZSQ playing excerpts of this piece. We loved the energy and variety of the different folk traditions, and it is great fun to perform! The other works we decided to programme around it also have strong folk influences.


What’s on the hit list, while in NZ (concert apart)?

It is the first time Alicia, Lydia and Ghislaine have flown to the southern hemisphere. They have already sampled my family's secret pavlova recipe, and we have a great selection of New Zealand wines in London so that has been covered already! But actually I'm most looking forward to showing them the Kiwi friendliness and pace of life - it's so different from being on the tube in London at rush hour!


What is the Behn Quartet up to after the NZ tour?

Coming up we have a residency at the Wiltshire Music Centre doing chamber music workships in schools, the Orlando International Chamber Music Competition Winners Tour in the Netherlands, and we're really looking forward to performing the Mendelssohn Octet in collaboration with our mentors the Doric Quartet!


Behn Quartet 

Touring NZ 14 Apr - 1 May. Find out more here.