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Founding Pianos


In 2016, Edith Cowan University received an unprecedented and historic gift – the Stewart Symonds Keyboard Instrument Collection. Painstakingly and intelligently assembled by Australian collector Stewart Symonds, the collection is widely recognised as one of the most significant in the world, and is of immense cultural value. Now preserved for posterity at Edith Cowan University, the Collection comprises 140 historical keyboard instruments – including the First Fleet piano. It offers a wide selection of exceptionally rare – in some instances, unique – stringed keyboard instruments dating from 1736 to 1874 including an English Bentside Spinet, and breathtaking examples of Square, Grand and Cabinet Pianos.

The future

This Collection marks the first steps of an ambitious future to build a multi-million dollar building for WAAPA. This will be the most technologically advanced performing arts space to date in the world.

In addition to housing the Founding Pianos collection, the performing arts precinct will bring learning experiences that blend tradition with innovation. Performance spaces will become living theatres and seamlessly marry performance with ground-breaking technology.

Our focus is on connectivity; we will share WAAPA with the world and bring the world to WAAPA. Learning spaces will be at the click of a button, making WAAPA a globally interactive, collaborative and accessible institution.

Housing a superb auditorium and gallery space, the precinct will also facilitate an open and visible workshop capable of hosting masterclasses and symposiums - training the next generation of performing artists.

Join the journey

To join the Founding Pianos journey

  • Email to join the mailing list and keep informed of showcases, tours and installations.
  • Visit the Founding Pianos website to learn more about individual pianos in the Collection and its adventures to date.
  • To donate, complete the form on ECU’s online portal and select Founding Pianos from the drop down menu.  If you wish to direct your support to a key focus area: Restoration, Replicas, Scholarships or Conservation, you can note in the other box.
  • Or simply call us on (61 8) 6304 2761 to ask how you can be part of the Collection.

Founding Piano Patrons

We would like to express our sincere thanks to all donors, patrons and friends of the Founding Pianos project.

Without your generosity, we would not be able to start or continue this ambitious project. On behalf of the entire ECU and WAAPA community, thank you for being part of something so special and globally significant.

  • Andrew Swift
  • Carole Grant
  • Christine Simpson Stokes and Kerry Stokes AC, Australian Capital Equity
  • Consul-General to Hong Kong and Macau Ms Michaela Browning
  • Feilman Foundation
  • In memory of John L Wilson
  • John Finlay-Jones
  • John and Di Poynton
  • Lotterywest
  • Mandy Loton
  • McCusker Charitable Foundation
  • Phil Thick and Paula Rogers
  • Simon Lee Foundation
  • Professor Steve Chapman
  • Ungar Family Foundation
  • Voyager Wines
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