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Theme & Variations Foundation

Founders: Ara and Nyree Vartoukian

Patron: Piers Lane

Ambassador: Alexander Gavrylyuk

Corporate Board Members: Chris Levy (chairman of the board), Nyree Vartoukian (founder), Ara Vartoukian (founder), Fraser McEwing, Philip Au, Anita Levy (secretary)

Mission: To encourage and support aspiring young Australian pianists.


Those who love great piano playing understand that its source is a combination of inborn talent, a tireless work ethic and the opportunity to apply both.

There are gifted young Australian pianists who have world-class talent, but not the financial resources or the opportunity to fully develop it. Our goal is to help them further their studies in Australia or overseas so they can reach their potential. Candidates need to be Australian citizens or residents aged 25 or less at the time they make their application for a grant or an award and they must be studying in Australian approved courses or institutions.
Great pianists can come from the most unexpected places. A young person may have an extraordinary gift for playing the piano but developing it may be beyond the resources of his or her family. This is where the foundation focuses its endeavours.

It is a simple enough idea: raise money and use it to nurture pianistic talent. But the execution is quite complex. The foundation has set up a fully validated trust which has been granted DGR-1 status so that any donations over $2.00 are tax deductible. It takes those donations and uses them, through a carefully structured search and assessment process, to assist young Australian pianists.

How we plan to help

Our mission will be achieved by (but not limited to):

  • Subsidising places at events run by recognised music teaching institutions for students who could not otherwise afford such teaching.
  • Subsidising travel and accommodation costs and tuition fees for outstanding students who could not otherwise afford their chosen course of study.
  • Providing quality performance opportunities for young pianists.
  • Arranging renowned pianists to provide Masterclass opportunities.

Why help us?

Becoming a concert pianist is a solitary pursuit which demands mental and physical stamina, discipline and commitment. While there are currently many piano competitions throughout Australia which help to launch solo piano careers, as far as we are aware there is no other organisation which provides guidance, support and financial assistance to help young Australian pianists prepare for the rigours of concert, competition and music performance.

By supporting our Theme & Variations Foundation you can help a young pianists, especially those under financial stress, to advance to higher levels of skills and achievement.

Ways you can help

Individual donations

Financial donations go into a fund from which awards are made. The awards may cover things such as further musical education, masterclasses and any other expenses authorised by the Board.


Whether it’s ushering at concerts, helping at events or contributing ideas and efforts for fund raising we would love to hear from you. Or you may be able to assist in some other way. Please let us know how you would like to help and we will do all we can to have you involved.


Leaving a bequest to the Theme & Variations Foundation will be an excellent way of making a significant contribution to its growth and success. You may choose to leave a particular asset or specified sum of money, or a percentage of your total estate. Bequests may be given freely so that the Theme & Variations Foundation can apply the money to the area of most need. It is also possible to leave a bequest with a requirement that the foundation use your gift for specific purpose. However you choose to give your gift, it will help to ensure that the Theme & Variations Foundation can continue its work into the future. Please speak with one of our Board members to discuss your suggestions and plans.

Corporate Sponsorship

The Theme & Variations Foundation is keen to work in partnership with businesses which share the same values as the Board. If your company would like to be associated with the Theme & Variations Foundation and the work it does please contact one of our Board members.

Conditions for receiving help from the Theme & Variations Foundation

Applicants must:

  • have Australian citizenship or be a permanent resident of Australia;
  • be enrolled in an approved course of musical study with a recognised Australian or overseas secondary or tertiary institution. Evidence of ongoing exceptional achievement will be required;
  • be under the age of 25 years at close of entry date, 9 October 2015.
  • go through a formal application and audition process as prescribed by the foundation’s board and artistic assessment panel;
  • be actively pursuing a career as a solo professional or collaborative pianist.

Theme & Variations Foundation Website


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