Instruments of change: supporting gifted musicians

Scholarships and fellowships created by generous alumni mean talented students at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music will have extraordinary opportunities.

After living in London and New York for 13 years, Australian film and stage producer Brian Abel has recently returned to Sydney.

“Talented students shouldn’t have to miss out on opportunities just because they can’t afford to move to the city to study,” Mr Abel says.

Growing up in Townsville in the 1970s, Mr Abel undertook Australian Music Examinations Board and Trinity College piano exams, but there was no opportunity to study music at university level. So he completed a bachelor’s degree at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 1992 as a mature-age student, studying piano under Albert Landa.

In 2014 Mr Abel established the Brian Abel Piano Scholarship at the Conservatorium. The scholarship reaches out to financially disadvantaged students to help with tuition fees and living expenses while studying music.

Last year Australian vision scientist, passionate violinist and Conservatorium alum, Gerald Westheimer AM, also gave to the Conservatorium.

Dr Gerald Westheimer, who was born in Germany and lives in the United States, is an accomplished recreational violinist. He emigrated with his family from Nazi-occupied Germany to Australia in 1938, and graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Science in 1948.

Dr Westheimer’s gift has established the Gerald Westheimer String Quartet Fellowship. It will give four string players added training, including masterclasses, competitions and overseas travel to music festivals while studying at the Conservatorium.

The program will give the quartet access to a collection of the highest quality string instruments, made by Italian master violin maker Sandro Asinari.

The Hillel String Quartet announced as inaugural winner

A number of string quartets studying at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music auditioned for the Gerald Westheimer String Quartet Fellowship and the Hillel String Quartet has been selected as the inaugural recipient.

The quartet formed in 2012 and participated in the Estivo European Chamber Music Summer School in 2014. The Hillel String Quartet will benefit enormously from this one year fellowship.

Watch the Hillel String Quartet in concert at Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music.