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Show must go on for young talents as Sydney Eisteddfod Crowd Favourite competition moves online

Donna Coutts, September 15, 2020 6:30PM Kids News

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Violinist Tracy Zhao performing in a previous competition. Picture: supplied media_cameraViolinist Tracy Zhao performing in a previous competition. Picture: supplied


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Ten-year-old Australian violinist Tracy Zhao was to be performing at the famous Carnegie Hall in New York City, US, in June this year.

Instead — like many other children around the world — she has been learning at home and practising the violin with her family (including two little brothers) her only audience.

If travel restrictions ease in time, Tracy and her dad will still get to New York in June 2021 for her postponed performance at a concert as part of the American International Protégés Piano and String Competition, where she has previously won both first place and the Judges Distinction Award.

In the meantime, Tracy is entering the Crowd Favourite Performances competition as part of the Sydney Eisteddfod*, which, for the first time in its 86-year history, will be online.

It’s a way to give Tracy and other talented young musicians, singers, dancers and actors from Australia and internationally an opportunity to perform during the COVID-19 crisis.

In a normal year, the Sydney Eisteddfod program includes 300 events involving 35,000 participants and 170,000 spectators annually. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this isn’t a normal year.

media_cameraAlbany Creek State High School dance excellence students, who won the School Contemporary and Classical Dance Groups (Years 7 to 12) in the Sydney Eisteddfod at the Sydney Opera House on August 26, 2018.

Piroozi Desai-Keane, Chief Executive of Sydney Eisteddfod, said: “The closure of competitions due to COVID-19 has been challenging for young emerging* artists who are developing and honing* their talents. With many young people’s daily activities continuing to be impacted by restrictions, providing an avenue* to perform, express themselves and compete amongst their peers* is critical.”

Tracy lives in Melbourne, Victoria, where coronavirus restrictions mean she still can’t go to school or music lessons and has missed many planned performances in the past six months.

And though she has made the most of her time — she has still been practising between one and three hours each school day and three to five hours on weekends — she has missed performing for others.

“I like to entertain,” Tracy said. “It’s passing the joy of the music to the audience.”

For the sake of performers like Tracy, Ms Desai-Keane said the organisers opted* to adapt and expand the competition rather than wait for the pandemic to be over.

“We decided — with the road ahead still uncertain, the show must go on!” she said.

“Sydney Eisteddfod has always been open to all Australians, but traditionally the events have been held in NSW. With the move online, we are hoping that under-35s from across Australia, and around the world, can submit entries and get involved. Particularly in states such as Vic where tighter restrictions are still in place, we feel this will be a really positive outlet for many young people – and help them to feel like part of the broader performing arts community.”

Both individual performance submissions and duo and group entries are welcome if COVID-19 restrictions are complied with at the time of recording. Entry is free and open to performers aged 10-35, there is more than $6000 in prizes and it is free to vote for the performer you think should win a prize. Applications close on September 21, 2020 and winners will be announced on October 27, 2020.

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media_cameraMichelle Ryan sings in the final of the 2019 Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship, in which she won third place.


  • eisteddfod: a competitive arts festival, originally from Wales, where they were for music and poetry
  • emerging: beginning to be noticeable
  • honing: improving, perfecting
  • avenue: opportunity
  • peers: people of the same age or group, such as class at school
  • opted: chose


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  1. Which instrument does Tracy play?
  2. Which competition is Tracy entering? What is different about it this year?
  3. Who has Tracy been performing to while at home?
  4. Why is Piroozi Desai-Keane quoted in this story?
  5. What does entertaining mean to Tracy?


1. A Year Like No Other
This year has been like no other, with COVID-19 affecting our everyday lives and freedoms that we would normally take for granted. Although kids have missed out on a lot of things, new opportunities have also been created and thought up to try and keep things happening and keep children’s lives happy and healthy. In a table like the one below, in the left column list some things that you’ve missed or had to give up, and in the other column list some new opportunities that have arisen due to the pandemic.

Make a table like this one to record your thoughts. media_cameraMake a table like this one to record your thoughts.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and social

2. Extension
Do you think Tracy and other artists will still be as talented performing when they’ve had to have so many months off and shows cancelled?

How could she create an audience or make up for not having one while she practises?

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and creative thinking

Punctuation Pursuit
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight as many pieces of punctuation as you can find in green. Discuss how these are being used, where and how often. What level of the punctuation pyramid is the journalist using in this article?

HAVE YOUR SAY: What is your special talent? Is it important to you to share that talent with a crowd or audience?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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