The University of Newcastle Conservatorium of Music has received the extraordinary gift of a nearly 200-year old violin from the Sisters of Mercy Convent at Singleton.
Valued at $35,000, the violin was made in 1829 by Italian violin-maker Joseph Dall’Aglio and belonged to former nun, Sr Moira Coaldrake – the eldest of eight children of Eileen Bailey & Thomas Coaldrake of Wickham in Newcastle.
The Bailey family were all highly musical and Moira’s aunt, Nellie, became leader of the second violins for the Brisbane Symphony Orchestra.
Moira’s education on the violin started at just age four and by the age of nine her father had bought her own violin on the recommendation of the Sisters that ‘a very good violin’ was for sale. The provenance of the violin prior to that time is.
At the age of seventeen, Moira entered the Sisters of Mercy Convent at Singleton to train as a nun and after two and a half years of study and now known as Sr Mary Hyacinth, she began her career as a music teacher.
In 1975, Sr Moira Coaldrake became one of the lead violinists with the community-based Novocastrian Orchestra (now Orchestra Nova) and regularly performed with the orchestra until just a year or so prior to her death.
Before her death, Moira asked Sr Monica Sinclair to ‘look after’ her precious violin and to ensure that it would continue to be loved, cared for, and played regularly by someone who would love it as she had.
Newcastle Conservatorium music student Victoria Stanmore will use the Dall’Aglio violin for the next 12 months.