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About the Foundation

The Theme & Variations Foundation is a not for profit organisation dedicated to assisting young Australian pianists who have the talent, but not the financial means to fully develop their professional careers.

As there are already a considerable number of piano competitions and piano scholarships in Australia, the Foundation provides different sorts of financial and practical assistance to talented and aspiring piano students. They include – but are not confined to – tuition at recognised institutions, travel and participation in piano competitions, and opportunities for performance.  Each year a number of grants are made to young pianists who fit the Foundation’s criteria. Apart from outstanding talent and the need for financial assistance, applicants must be Australian citizens or permanent residents of Australia. Full details of applications can be found on this website under ‘apply for assistance’.

The Theme & Variations Foundation was formed by Ara and Nyree Vartoukian to encourage and support exceptional young Australian pianists. With the help of friends and colleagues who share a passion for music and pianos, the foundation took shape in late 2011 and was officially launched at the NSW Government House in the presence of Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir and Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy on 14th February 2012.

Prior to that, Ara and Nyree Vartoukian had been actively helping and supporting young pianists since opening their piano sales and service business “Theme and Variations” in 1985. They generously provided – and still do – practice facilities and performance opportunities for many promising young artists. They decided to establish the Theme and Variations Foundation so that their assistance could be formalised and extended, thus making it more effective. Besides sharing the workload, one of the benefits of forming the Foundation has been to attain deductible gift recipient (DGR1) status with the Australian Tax Office so all donations of $2.00 and over are tax deductible.

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2018 Award winners

We are pleased to announce the 2018 award recipients are Leanne Jin and Annie Ma. The assessment panel was impressed by the very high level of the performances of both pianists.

Their respective recitals established excellent technical and textural control from the outset, fine tonal graduation at all dynamic levels, with warm cantabile of the melodic lines, rhythmic, dynamic playing and a sure understanding of the architectural and musical direction of each work.

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Latest News

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2019 Events

Michael Brimer talks about music and its creators

The Board of Theme & Variations foundation invites you and your friends to a stimulating series of four evening discussions for lovers of classical music. One of Australia’s most distinguished pianists and musicologists, Professor Michael Brimer will give a series of four informal talks in September 2019 about the classical composers recently voted by ABC listeners as the most popular. They are Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and Tchaikovsky. The talks will be held at the Theme & Variations showroom in Willoughby on the four Wednesday evenings in September. They will be a fundraiser for the Theme & Variations Foundation which assists talented young Australian pianists who need financial help to achieve their goals. Those of us who have heard Michael speak know him as a wonderful story teller with a vast knowledge of all forms of music. He illustrates his talks with demonstrations at the piano, the instrument that has taken him to the top of performing, especially in Australia. As a pianist, Michael has performed 25 different piano concertos, two organ concertos and countless solo recitals as well as being an outstanding teacher. Michael’s talks will not be lectures for students sitting for music exams, but rather for lovers of [...]

Leanne to play at 2019 Canberra International Music Festival

As part of this year’s Theme & Variations Foundation award, Leanne Jin, one of our two recipients, has been invited to participate in the 2019 Canberra International Music Festival as its 2019 Young Artist. Leanne’s performances in Canberra: Thursday May 2, a solo recital at the National Gallery of Australia Monday May 6, afternoon public masterclass with Russian pianist Vyacheslav Gryaznov For further information and bookings please go to Canberra International Music Festival […]