Wollongong Eisteddfod 2014: Gwynneville family give Von Trapps a run for their money

Cormac, 11, cello; Felicity, 15, piano; Celeste, 6, violin, Thomas, 9, cello; Patrick, 8, piano and Isabelle, 13, violin, all competed in this year's Wollongong Eisteddfod. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

Cormac, 11, cello; Felicity, 15, piano; Celeste, 6, violin, Thomas, 9, cello; Patrick, 8, piano and Isabelle, 13, violin, all competed in this year's Wollongong Eisteddfod. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI

When it comes to music, the Carolan family of Gwynneville have enough numbers to form their own mini string orchestra.

Six of the nine Carolan children learn music and performed individually in this year's Wollongong Eisteddfod.

Felicity, 15, and Patrick, 8, performed in the piano sections; Isabelle, 13, and Celeste, 6, were on the violin; while Cormac, 11, and Thomas, 9, competed on the cello.

And at their eisteddfod performances, the four children playing strings were accompanied by their mother Fiona Carolan on piano.

It was a hectic week for Mrs Carolan who had the support of family members who minded her other children - Benedict, 4, Daniel, 2, and baby Louis, six months - at home.

Mrs Carolan, who continued to learn piano through teacher Teresa Ryan through high school and her university years, said music was an important part of her family's life.

"My husband didn't really have the opportunities to play music when he was younger but he loves listening to music and we are both encouraging our children in their musical pursuits," she said.

The family's involvement with the Wollongong Eisteddfod started in 2007 when Felicity first performed.

Yet 2014 was the first time the six children were all on the program. Patrick and Celeste made their debut eisteddfod performance this year.

"I was very proud of all of our children," Mrs Carolan said.

"They have all been very proud of themselves after they have completed their performances - the fact they could get up and perform in public.

"The eisteddfod is an opportunity for them to perform and share their music with others.

"It's also an opportunity to see other children perform who are also doing the hard yards with their practice. It's like a peer support event of meeting other children with similar interests."

The Carolan children are taught music by piano teacher Catherine Burgess from the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music; violin by Sarah Hindson of Corrimal; and cello by Tanya Phillips and Kaija Upenieks.

The Wollongong Eisteddfod will continue on Wednesday.

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