In their House of Music

By Titus Filio

Members of the prestigious Sydney Youth Orchestra, the gifted Carreon siblings just can’t stop hitting the right notes.

You can call theirs as the house of music because it is. The young Carreons of Sydney find music even beyond the instruments they play. They discern the pitch in their Ninong’s snoring or even melodic notes in the sounds of traffic and barking dogs!

All Australia-born, the talented Carreon siblings Francis (20), Patrick (18), Melody (15), and David (11) can be considered the Filipino-Australian community’s pride in the Sydney Youth Orchestra.

Their musical talents have been gaining the attention of music-lovers and keen interest of their teachers over the past couple of years.

Young as they are, their bio suggests the incredible heights they have reached and could be reaching in the field of music.

“Music envelops family life: instrument practice starts every day before breakfast and preparation to leave for school or university, continuing in the afternoon and evening before the day ends,” said mum Beth who manages home and as well finds herself kids’ busy schedule.

“The children naturally gravitate towards anything musical, even interpreting non-musical sounds. They identify everyday sounds of traffic, conversation, noise, barking dogs, even thunderstorms (!) as musical notes. They have identified notes of
their Ninong’s snores as he napped, blissfully unaware of being the subject of aural scrutiny.”

www.syo.com.au recent post gives a glimpse on the Super Four.

“I started learning the piano at age six (siblings and I all began with piano as the base for our other instruments) and completed two associate of music diplomas (Guild & AMEB) by Year 10. I also took up Classical Guitar, reaching AMEB Gr.8. As neither of these two instruments would have allowed me to join a traditional orchestra, it was exciting news when TangoOz was formed in 2009. Discovering that the piano is an integral part of Tango music, I am proud to have been part of the orchestra as a pianist,” said Francis.

In 2009, he performed with illustrious international performers Ignacio Varchausky (double bass) and Santiago Polimeni (bandoneon) from Buenos Aires. He is currently pursuing an engineering career and a degree in arts and music at the University of NSW.

Patrick started playing the piano even younger:

“I started the piano at age four together with older brother Francis and have since completed the AMusA in Year 11. I also started to learn Classical Guitar but did not connect as well with this. I began to look for an instrument to enable me to join an orchestra.”

“One of the highlights of my time at SYO was to have played on the barge at Darling Harbour for the Australia Day celebrations in 2011. I would never have imagined playing with an orchestra afloat on the water.”

Like her brother Patrick, Melody started playing the piano at age four and had completed two associate of music diplomas by Year 10.

“I started to learn Classical Guitar like my older brothers but did not connect as well with this. I have always been fascinated by the sound of the clarinet. Listening to brilliant players inspired me to learn how to one day be like them so I took this up in Year 6. … With my younger brother David already in Chamber Strings I looked for opportunities for a clarinetist in SYO.”

David joined the SYO when he was six after getting much encouragement from his violin instructor.

“It was a thrill being placed with the older kids to play violin with the Chamber Strings Orchestra under Caroline Watson,” David said.

“2012 brings me to my 6th year with SYO, having started with Chamber Strings, then Sinfonietta with Michael Thrift in 2010 and Peter Seymour Orchestra with John Ockwell this year. At the same time, I joined TangoOz with Maggie Ferguson in 2011. As with my older siblings, Maggie also encouraged me to understudy the piano.”

The kids’ father, Butch (Gabriel Carreon) on his family’s side migrated to Australia in 1979 while mum Beth (de la Cruz) arrived in Australia in 1983. Both their families settled in the St. George area in southern Sydney. Butch is an accountant while Beth currently acts as the kids’ manager.

Their parents come from Manila. Music and the performing arts have somehow been in their blood.

“Music is an inherent part of both families – two Titas from both sides are Piano Performance graduates of the Centro Escolar College of Music and the UP Conservatorium, one married to a professional violinist,” said Beth.

“Two great-grandfathers played the banjo; a great-uncle is a pianist …Butch’s sister has sons with the St Mary’s Cathedral choir; Beth’s brother is a singer in New York; family members from both sides are in church choirs and bands; Beth’s sister (Nina) is a Zumba Dance fitness instructor.”

AS MUSICIANS, the children have played for 50th, 70th and 90th birthday celebrations, wedding anniversaries, a Christmas performance at a Retirement Home and school assemblies.They are booked for an upcoming Wedding in October this year.

All four are organists and Butch and Francis are cantors at St Declan’s Parish Church. They played for the Philippine Independence Day Freedom Ball organised by APCO in 2010.
Patrick, Melody and David were involved in recording the music for the short film, “Den Sista Galaxonaut” which was a finalist in the TropFest Film festival last year.

The kids are not just into music. Music aside, the children have excelled in their academics and extracurricular activities: all four have represented their schools at District Swimming Carnivals; basketball is a regular activity for the boys from weekend games with the family to competitions with various teams.

“Francis was part of a team that won the Boys B-Grade Tennis Championship; Patrick has represented Marist Kogarah High School in chess; Melody competed in Physie-Culture Dance with other zone teams up to age 14 (they were regular performers for the Royal Easter Show); David represents his school every year in Cricket and OzTag, competing successfully with other schools, bringing back trophies each season!,”

What parents won’t be proud?

Yet amidst the bright prospects that’s within their reach, for the Carreon brood, their passion for music is driven by that simple desire to make the people around them happy.

The children’stop fans? “Their grandparents!! Lolo Gabriel and Lola Dolores Carreon, as well as Papa Nilo and Mama Mila dela Cruz,” said Beth.
“The children know how proud they make their grandparents feel and how playing and sharing beautiful music really does help make our world a nicer place.”

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