Donor profiles

Professor Gerald Westheimer AM

Professor Gerald Westheimer AM, a distinguished neurobiologist at Berkeley University in San Francisco, came to Sydney in 2009 to receive his medal from the Governor of NSW, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, but his journey also had another purpose – to deliver the second of two valuable violins to The Con.

Having played, loved and collected violins ever since he studied music at The Con more than fifty years ago, Professor Westheimer decided to establish The Gerald Westheimer Instrument Collection at The Con to provide top quality instruments for gifted students. Professor Westheimer believes giving should be fun – and he is thoroughly enjoying the renewed association with The Con that brings him across the Pacific once or twice a year to augment the collection that will bear his name in perpetuity.

Mary Turner OAM and Olive Dunk
Mary Turner and Olive Dunk with the bust of George Henderson. Photograph by Dan White.

Mary Turner OAM and Olive Dunk are the executors of the estate of the late George and Margaret Henderson, who were graziers with a deep love and knowledge of music. Having no children of their own, George and Margaret Henderson decided, without fuss or fanfare, to dedicate their worldly possessions to the cause of helping young Australian musicians to have the best tuition available and to benefit from international experience. In excess of $16m, it is said that the Hendersons' donation is the largest charitable bequest in the history of Australian education.

George’s longtime secretary and proud Conservatorium supporter, Olive Dunk, reflected recently:

“Both of them would have been absolutely thrilled if they could see what their money is doing. I often think what a pity it is that they didn’t sponsor some students in their lifetime, so they could have got to know them and seen their musical skills growing.”

Robert Albert AO RFD RD

Robert Albert and his family have a long history of promoting and supporting music and music education in Australia. In 2001, Robert began his association with the Australian Piano manufacturer, Wayne Stuart of Stuart & Sons, who had developed a way of anchoring strings in a piano that provided a tonal richness unlike anything heard before.

With the Sydney Conservatorium of Music regarded as Australia’s leading education institution for music and musicians, Robert was convinced that the Con should have not only a Stuart concert grand but a Stuart studio grand as well, so that musicians could experience and appreciate the flexibility and the soundscope that the Stuart provides.

Robert thoroughly endorses the Australian tax system encouraging philanthropy and particularly donations to the arts, and he is delighted to enable the Con to provide annual scholarships to support a number of postgraduate students.