Theme & Variations

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In This

  1. Welcome to Soundboard
  2. Concert & Community News
  3. A New Steinway App
  4. Theme & Variations Foundation Applications
  5. Q&A - An Interview with Tamara Anna Cislowska
  6. Theme & Variations Reward Program
  7. For The Record - Thomas Rann
  8. Behind The Keys - Steinway Deconstruction
  9. For the Diary

Welcome to our March issue of SOUNDBOARD!

We hope that you have all had a marvelous Easter break, just in time for the
school holidays! 

We have enjoyed a flurry of valued customers utilizing the school holiday
break to pop in and choose the perfect piano, or lock in an overdue piano tune.
Almost all of the new Boston and Essex pianos due to arrive into our
showrooms at the end of April have pre-sold already, so if you're looking at
upgrading to a beautiful piano from the family of Steinway designed pianos,
now is the time.

We'd like to offer a huge congratulations to our friends at Musica Viva
Australia for their remarkable Musica Viva Festival, which was held at the
Sydney Conservatorium of Music over the first weekend of April. Having
serviced and prepared all of the pianos for the festival, we're now gearing up
for the Kangaroo Valley Arts Festival, which is fast approaching this May. 

This SOUNDBOARD issue features quite a lot of upcoming performances and
master classes, so make sure you have your diary ready as you read, because
there are some in here that you won't want to miss out on. 

We're also very happy to announce that the Theme & Variations Foundation
for Young Pianists is now ready to receive applications from young pianists
seeking funding and support, so be sure to share this issue with anybody you
know who might benefit from the financial support of the foundation.

concert and community news banner

Kathryn Selby Master Classes

If you haven't already saved the date, here is your official reminder for the
Kathryn Selby Master Class taking place at our Willoughby showroom this
Friday the 19th April at 6.30pm.

The class will feature a number of talented chamber music students and is a
night not to be missed!

For more information please contact S&F on 1300 511 099 or email

Brisbane-based pianist Alex Raineri to perform on the Sunshine Coast in May
The next concert at Lucas Parklands on the Sunshine Coast will be held on
Sunday 19 May at 3pm featuring pianist Alex Raineri. The venue which boasts
a Steinway Model B in ‘Flame’ Mahogany is set in the beautiful rainforest
hinterland in Montville – a scenic 90 minute drive from the Brisbane CBD.
The programme includes:
J. S. Bach               Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue
L. V.  Beethoven    32 Variations on an Original Theme
E. Granados           The Maiden and the Nightingale  
M. de Falla             Ritual Fire Dance  
and more...
Alex will be joined by Sam Lucas and together they will perform 3 Fantasie
Pieces for cello and piano by Schumann.
For ticket information and bookings please contact Lucas Parklands on
(07) 5478 5667 or visit

Tickets now on sale for the AFCM

Escape this winter to the tropical paradise of North Queensland and experience
the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, winner of the 2012 Limelight
Award for Best Festival.

With more international and national musicians than ever before, there really
is something for everyone in this year’s Festival programme.

Festival favourites like Michael Collins, Atle Sponberg and Zuill Bailey are
returning, whilst rising stars Giovanni Guzzo and Ksenija Siderova make their
Festival début. The Goldner String Quartet, the Australian String Quartet, the
Australian Brass Quintet plus many more fine musicians come together to
present 30 incredible concerts and special events over 10 glorious days.

Highlights this year include Joe Chindamo and Zoe Black’s Explorations to be
held on the lawns of Jupiters, the Australian première of Ben Wallfisch’s 
Chopin’s Waterloo
 and an unforgettable combination of remote tropical beach
and fine music at the Music in Paradise concert at RadicalBay on Magnetic 
Exclusive 3 and 4 night Festival holiday packages also available.

Visit for more information or phone (07) 4771 4114.

26 July - 3 August 2013.

Highlights of a Decade

The NSW Doctors Orchestra conducted by GP Dr David Banney (winner of the
1995 ABC-Westfield Australian Young Conductor of the Year Award) presents
“Highlights of a Decade” at 2.30pm on Sunday 26th of May 2013 in the
Chatswood Concourse Concert Hall. The concert will feature critically
acclaimed pianist Simon Tedeschi.

The program will include:
Scherzino by Elena Kats-Chernin (World Premier)
Dvorak’s 8th Symphony
Greig’s Piano Concerto
Tickets: Adults: $40, Concession: $30, Child: $20, Family: $90 + booking fee.
Bookings: or 02 9261 8366

Farewell to one of the T&V Team

After 12 months, we're saying goodbye to one of our Sydney team members,
Kateryna Collier.

Many of you will know Kateryna, who has been skillfully booking your tuning
appointments and coordinating our busy piano hire fleet. Now that her visa
has come to an end, Kateryna is moving on to explore other exciting

Nyree and Ben will be available to help you with all of your piano servicing
and hire enquiries, so don't hesitate to give us a call on (02) 9958 9888!

Steinway App

Steinway & Sons are pleased to introduce a new Steinway app!

If you've ever been concerned about the size of piano that you can fit into
your space, this is the app for you. Now, every iPad or iPhone owner can
easily find out which grand or upright piano would best fit into his or her home.

The whole Steinway & Sons model range - from the upright V-125 to the
concert grand D-274 can be displayed in their original size in every location
so that the user can try model by model which instrument is both visually and
spatially most suitable for the home!

Head to the app store to download your free version of the app.

Foundation 2

The Theme and Variations Foundation is now ready to commence their
assistance awards program. We have now approached the Heads of Keyboard
Studies in conservatoria in NSW asking for their cooperation in nominating
talented, financially disadvantaged piano students who could benefit from our
The way to proceed is for each nominated student to submit their written
application. A 15 to 20 minute DVD demonstrating the playing of the student
must be included with each application. Applications will be received and
discussed by an independent panel headed by Professor Michael Brimer. A
short list of students will be invited to an interview and to give a 20-minute
recital at the piano showroom of Theme & Variations Piano Services in
Willoughby, Sydney.
We anticipate the live auditions will take place in September 2013. Depending
upon available funds, the advisory board will arrange to assist successful
applicants according to individual needs. As a guide, we intend to make two
grants of up to $10,000 each to commence from January 2014. 
For the application form for grants and any additional information you can
visit the Theme & Variations Foundation website by clicking here.


This month we have the pleasure of speaking with renowned Sydney-based
pianist and member of the renowned Australia Quartet, Tamara Anna Cislowska.

AL: Talking with you, I hear an exciting, enthusiastic and vital pianist, one who
enjoys the challenges and diversity of solo work and collaborating in ensemble
work, presenting a variety of repertoires. It seems important to you that you
stay abreast of what is happening in the  world of music, to be an integral part
of that world, and for you, in your performance,  to promote the works of
Australian composers. 

You have a busy schedule over the next months: Sydney Youth Orchestra,
Queensland Symphony, solo performances and the Australia Quartet.
Performing different works, with different orchestras and conductors, this must
be quite a challenge. Do you have any special techniques to prepare for these
events? How do you manage your practice, and learning new repertoire,
whilst traveling around the country? 

TC: I think it can be like trying different cuisines, which I love! When you are
eating a beautiful Thai meal for example, you aren't thinking about
spaghetti……. the body has a great capacity to adjust and focus on what is the
most central thing at that moment.

Wherever I am, that is the most important place to be! I find combining all
these different performances allows me to be expressive in different ways, and
refreshes my artistic temperament. I think we are lucky as musicians to be able
to court such variety in our work and I've always had a gift for switching modes
AL: Do you prefer concerto work, solo work or chamber music work? Can
you tell us why?

AC: I would never choose one above the other as they really are so
complimentary and, after all, music is music! When I am performing a recital I
often feel lonely and yearn for my quartet colleagues, when I am playing with
an orchestra I think 'why don't I record more?',  then during a chamber work I
might think about improvising. There is always a thirst for the next experience
and a breaking down of barriers and limitations. Music itself is completely
without borders. 
AL: As the pianist of the Australia Quartet, the UTS Piano Quartet in Residence,
can you tell our readers about this chamber music ensemble? What sort of works
do you enjoy playing together? Can you tell us a little about a quartet, and
how it differs from a trio? Being ‘in residence’, what does this entail?

TC: A piano quartet is a wonderful beast because it offers the full, rich sound
of a large ensemble and yet contains four soloists! The Australia Quartet is in
residence at UTS and this means that we perform a series of concerts there each
year as well as interacting with the students and other University projects and

The quartet has a wide repertoire spanning about 300 years of music. We
especially enjoy performing and commissioning Australian works which are,
after all, 'ours' in a way that a Mozart, Beethoven or Schumann quartet could
never be. It's a very special feeling. In 2012 we performed works for quartet
by Sculthorpe, Kats-Chernin, Edwards and Paul Stanhope, and for many of our
audience, they were real highlights of our series. More coming in 2013!
AL: Congratulations on your winning the 2012 Art Music Award for
Performance of the Year (ACT), playing Elena Kats-Chernin’s Torque. You
have also performed a recital of her works, improvising together, four-hands.
Can you tell us a little about your work with Elena?

TC: I can say without reservation that improvising with Elena Kats-Chernin is
the most fun thing that exists in this world! I would do it every day if I could.
Working with such a brilliant and inspirational woman is like living a miracle.
Peter Sculthorpe once said 'she is the closest thing we have to Mozart in this
country' and it is true that her genius is astonishing. Elena can write a piece in
minutes! She once wrote a piece when we were flying from Adelaide to Sydney!
What we do in our concerts is almost a re-imagining of her existing works as
well as improvising new ones on the spot because Elena is constantly creating
new material! You are really watching music happen before your very eyes.
It is something unique, unheard of in classical music. I'm really excited about
all the projects I am lucky enough to be doing with her.
AL: Many of your concerts have featured the works of Australian composers.
Can you tell us why you champion these works? 

TC: Our composers are the engine of our cultural future, and the most precious
resource we have as a country. I treasure our music and share its vibration.
These are the composers who live, breathe, speak, eat as I do and walked where
I have, and to me, that means something. And, music only lives when it is
heard. So, it must be heard!
AL: In each concert hall you play, each piano must be different. How
important is the piano technician and his understanding of your playing?

TC: The technicians are just as artistic as the performers! They have so much
skill and subtlety in their work. I have been fortunate to work closely with a
number of technicians and am often surprised by their sensitivity and rigour. Irreplaceable!
AL: Can you tell us a little about your recent Mona Foma experience in

TC: At Mona Foma this year I performed an installation/recital with violinist
Anna McMichael called 'Lullaby'. To a backdrop of beautiful visual images we
performed written and commissioned lullabies of all different types. Some
lyrical or ethereal, others abstract….one was even a bit threatening more like
'Rosemary's Baby'! The composers were as diverse as Robert Ashley and
Andrew Ford, Sibelius and Ravel.
AL: And a quick lateral question - how do you manage to hone your
considerable tennis skills in between your concert performances? 

TC: Tennis is a great game……it's very hard to win points playing piano but in
tennis it's simple! As well as irrefutable! You really can WIN. I recently came
back to tennis after a long absence to compete in a tournament with a friend
who moved back from London. Tennis gives you a great sense of rhythm and
timing (true!) and it's good to use the big muscles as well as  the small ones as
well as a different part of the brain.

If you would like to find out more information about Tamara's upcoming
performances with the Australia Quarted you can do so by clicking here!


Tandv rewards program

Would you like an hour of free service on your piano? 

Simply have one of your friends or family book a piano tuning with us, and
we'll add an hour of complimentary voicing and regulation to your next piano
tuning appointment.

To book or for more information, phone (02) 9958 9888 or (07) 3666 0650.

For the Record 2

Keeping with the theme of the Australia Quartet, this month, the quartet's cellist
Thomas Rann tells us about a work that he simply can't live without.

Selecting one recording of a work that I cannot live without is a difficult task
as there are so many! As ‘cellist of Australia Quartet, my passion lies in
chamber music for piano and strings, and so many performances of my
favourite pianists would have made for logical inclusion in SOUNDBOARD –
Argerich, Richter, Michelangeli, Lipatti, Rubinstein  - the list goes on. But my
attention keeps being drawn back to the celebrated and definitive recording of
Schubert’s epic masterpiece, String Quintet in C Major D956, with a line-up
of stars including Isaac Stern, Alexander Schneider (Budapest Quartet),
Pablo Casals and Paul Tortelier, which I have been listening to since my
early teens (click here to watch a performance).
One of the great pillars of the classical canon, the Quintet is boundless in
beauty, depth, hope, despair and all ranges of emotion. Having performed
and studied the work, this interpretation is so memorable and always leaves
me with goose bumps.  Recorded at Casals’ Festival in Prades in 1952-3, one
is immediately mesmerised by the reassuring vintage sound quality, and the
wonderfully declamatory, yet intimate phrasing and rhetoric. I’ve always had
great fondness for ‘old school’ string playing, and this recording is an
incredible example of some of the greatest string players in history coming
together in an incredibly powerful and cohesive account of this masterwork.
Maybe it’s a cellist thing, but the added bass and beautiful duets between the
two celli (notably in the first movement) make this quintet even richer than it
would have been as a string quartet. In the divine and transporting second
movement Adagio, (incidentally featured to beautiful effect in the 1995 film
Carrington) the cello pizzicato and celestial violin line creates a spiritual
atmosphere that would move the most hardened listener. Even the great
pianist Arthur Rubinstein requested that this movement be performed at his
funeral. For me, the most powerful statement in this work occurs in the final
bar of the jubilant and yearning last movement – a heart-wrenching
transformation where the quintet joins in fortissimo unison and plays a D flat
grace note that descends into the tonic key of C Major.
The listener’s intimate experience of some of Schubert’s final and most
profound thoughts is intensified throughout by Casals’ groans and moans
that are captured on the recording, aching with emotion and the most genuine
love of music and humanity. I hope you are moved by this recording as much
as I am!

Australia Quartet is a Piano Partner of Theme & Variations in 2013. You can
hear them perform piano quartets by Ross Edwards, Martinu and Saint-Saens
at the Independent Theatre on Saturday April 20 at 5pm.
Tickets or 1300 302 604.

You can also get in touch with the Australia Quartet by visiting the following
links to their website, facebook and twitter pages. 


Behind The Keys

The Secrets of Steinway: A Piano Deconstruction

This month we're giving you a "Behind the Keys" in person as
Theme & Variations Piano Services owner and Head Technician
Ara Vartoukian presents "The Secrets of Steinway", an informative seminar on
the insides of a piano at our Willoughby showroom this week, and as a part of
the Kangaroo Valley Arts Festival.

The first seminar will be held this Thursday evening, the 18th of April at
Theme & Variations Piano Services, 451 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby from
6pm-8pm in partnership with our friends from Sydney Symphony.

Phone (02) 9958 9888 for more information.

The second will be held at the Church of the Good Shepherd,
143 Moss Vale Rd, Kangaroo Valley at 12pm on Saturday 4th May. Make sure
you get yourself a ticket to one of the Festival performances to gain entry to
the seminar. Tickets are available by clicking here.


For The Diary

What's on around NSW

Theme & Variations Piano Services
(click here to visit the Theme & Variations website)

Sydney Symphony Piano Deconstruction, Thursday April 18
Kathryn Selby Masterclass, Friday April 19
Musica Viva Masterclass, Friday April 3

Sydney Symphony
(click here to visit the Sydney Symphony website)

Cirque de la Symphonie - April 19, 20, 21
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - April 19, 21
Northern Lights: Ades conducts Sibelius - May 1, 2, 3
Ashkenazy conducts Beethoven: Pastoral Symphony - May 9, 10, 11

Australian Chamber Orchestra
(click here to visit the ACO website)

Barry Humphries - April 23 to May 3

Musica Viva
(click here to visit the Musica Viva website)

Morgenstern Trio & Christopher Moore - April 20 to May 4
Tocky String Quartet - May 27 to June 12

Opera Australia
(click here to visit the Opera Australia website)


What's on around QLD

Theme & Variations Piano Services
(click here to visit the Theme & Variations website)

DeClassified Music - April 26

Norablo Quartet 
April 28
Queensland Symphony Orchestra Studio

Musica Viva
Morgenstern Trio & Christopher Moore

April 30
Queensland Conservatorium Theatre

Medici Concerts: Roger Woodward
May 18
Queensland Conservatorium Theatre

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