Piano virtuoso wins scholarship to study at Griffith

Gold Coast piano virtuoso Nina Fan is the inaugural recipient of the Emily Reinhardt Piano Scholarship – part of Ms Reinhardt’s $1 million bequest to the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University.

Nina, 17, studied at the Young Conservatorium before winning the scholarship, which ensures a fully-funded place at the Queensland Conservatorium.

An act of generosity

Mrs Reinhardt’s husband Peter came from a famous artistic family in Austria, whose stunning home provided the setting for the iconic film, The Sound of Music.

Like many people of Jewish descent, Peter was forced to flee Austria during WWII. He found refuge in the Netherlands, where he met Emily. The couple worked for the Dutch Resistance movement before immigrating to Australia in 1950 to start a new life on the Gold Coast.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German government compensated the Reinhardt family, and Emily and Peter decided to gift their share of the inheritance to help nurture the careers of young musicians.

The Emily Reinhardt Piano Scholarship covers full tuition for an outstanding piano student, with a new recipient announced each year.

Chasing her dreams

Nina said she was grateful for the generous gift that had allowed her to pursue her studies at the Queensland Conservatorium.

“The scholarship has made a huge difference to my life,” she said.

“Emily is an inspiration – it was so generous of her to give this gift to help young musicians study at the Con.

“I want to be a concert pianist, which isn’t easy, and winning this scholarship allows me to chase my dreams.

“I’m shooting for the world stage – I want to play Carnegie Hall, I want to perform with the Berlin Philharmonic.”

A rising star

Nina began learning piano at the age of seven. By the age of 13, she was chosen to participate in Griffith University Young Conservatorium “Rising Stars Program” where she began taking lessons with the Queensland Conservatorium Head of Keyboard, Natasha Vlassenko.

Last year, Nina won the 2018 Young Virtuoso National Award – taking out the top honour in a highly competitive field. She has previously won the Brisbane Eisteddfod Piano Award, and was one of the Top 20 finalists in the 2017 Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition.

She was chosen to perform as part of the Australian Showcase at the 2016 Sydney International Piano Competition, where her performance was broadcast live throughout Australia on ABC Classic FM.

Nina spends hours each day practicing and listens to classical music in her downtime.

“Now that I’m at the Con, I do a minimum of four hours practice a day, although sometimes I sit at the piano all day,” she said.

“What inspired me was the first Lev Vlassenko performance that I went to… that’s when I was like ‘I want to do that… I want to perform on stage with an orchestra one day.

“The feeling of performing on stage with an orchestra and just getting lost in the music is amazing.

“When I play, it comes from my heart, and I love that music helps interpret all of those emotions – joy, sadness, anger.”

Remarkable opportunities

Griffith University Deputy Vice Chancellor (Engagement) Professor Martin Betts said the gift from the estate of Peter and Emily Reinhardt was providing remarkable opportunities.

“This gift will create opportunities for the most talented musicians in Australia to pursue their studies at Griffith,” he said.

“Emily Reinhardt was passionate about providing an outstanding music education for our finest young performers.

“This generous endowment will benefit many generations of piano students and reflects the importance of the arts to our donors and the broader community.”

The scholarship will be open to entrance level, undergraduate students, and provide an annual stipend for the duration of their study.

A life-changing gift

Queensland Conservatorium Director Professor Scott Harrison said the gift would be “life-changing”.

“A gift of this magnitude underscores the vital role the Queensland Conservatorium plays in guiding the next generation of outstanding musicians,” he said.

“Music played an incredibly important role in Emily Reinhardt’s life.

“Her generous gift will have a very real impact on our students — this scholarship has the power to change lives.”