Haydn Staples Piano Scholarship Programme

The Haydn Staples Piano Scholarship Programme is awarded to three Piano Scholars each year for showing outstanding potential and committment to excelling both nationally and internationally as a pianist.

The Scholarship Programme is administered by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, in conjunction with the University of Auckland’s School of Music, and made possible by the generous support of Haydn Staples. The Programme supports the Scholars for the duration of their studies by providing them with opportunities to develop a wide-ranging portfolio of skills that complement their advanced solo studies. These include:

  • A scholarship of $2,000 per year towards the cost of music studies

  • Six extra piano lessons with highly respected piano teacher Bryan Sayer

  • One piano lesson with an international pianist performing with the APO

  • The opportunity to participate in one masterclass with an international artist performing with the APO

  • One performance as part of a piano trio ensemble with APO musicians in recital

  • One solo performance in recital

  • One solo performance in concert with the APO

  • Tickets to all APO piano concerto concerts each season

  • Orchestral piano mentoring from Sarah Watkins

  • Employability skills mentoring and professional development

  • Participation in alumni activities once scholar has completed programme.

Associate Professor Rae de Lisle and Senior Lecturer Stephen de Pledge at the School of Music say:

“We are delighted at the prospect of this new programme for advanced piano students. It aims to provide students with a wide-ranging portfolio of skills to complement their advanced solo studies, and will prove beneficial in numerous ways. This new programme offers opportunities in chamber music, collaborative playing, orchestral piano and communication skills, in addition to a performance-based solo piano focus. These experiences and training opportunities are invaluable for student pianists, and will give them vastly improved options for career paths in many diverse areas of music. As educators our task is to give students the widest range of skills for the marketplace, and the varied skill-set and quality-driven focus of this programme will be highly valued.

This is a unique programme, and is specifically aimed towards greater employability of students at the end of their study. A wealth of performance experience in all areas is offered, alongside training and mentoring from internationally recognized teachers and collaborating musicians. The chosen piano scholars will be those who have outstanding potential and who are committed to excelling both nationally and internationally. The School of Music at the University of Auckland is delighted to partner in this unique initiative with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and is grateful for the very generous support of Haydn Staples.”

The Haydn Staples Piano Programme is part of APO Connecting.

Our Students

Class of 2019


Frank Chen

Frank Chen was born in Auckland, New Zealand and started playing the piano from the age of eight, developing a love for the instrument from an early age. Frank has completed his honours year in classical performance at the University of Auckland, and is currently studying a master’s degree. During his time at University, Frank has studied piano with Richard Liu, Stephen de Pledge and is now currently working with Rae de Lisle. Some of Frank’s musical highlights include competing in many competitions such as, the 50th & 51st Christchurch concerto competitions, Margaret Donne sonata competition, the NSPAS competitions and the National Wallace competition. Over time, Frank has developed interest in Chamber music and performing as an accompanist, which is something he is looking to pursue in future. His musical goals are based around performing and also becoming a teacher in order to share his passion for music and help others.


Marianna Kang

Marianna Kang is currently in her second year of studying at the University of Auckland, with Dr. Rae De Lisle. Originally from Hamilton, Marianna began learning the piano at the age of six years old. Ever since, her love for music has grown and she has actively performed at concerts and participated in competitions. She has won awards and scholarships at various competitions, such as the National Young Performer Awards (PACANZ) held in Palmerston North, the Christchurch National Concerto Competition, and the IRMT competition in Auckland. In 2017 Marianna received the fourth prize at the Wallace National Piano Competition, after placing second place at the Junior Competition the year before. Marianna also finds great joy in chamber music and has attended the Adam Summer School for Chamber Music held in Nelson. There she received coaching from the New Zealand String Quartet, Diedre Irons and Jian Liu. Marianna looks forward to developing her knowledge and skills throughout her lifelong journey as a musician.


Soomin Kim

Soomin Kim is a third-year student at the University of Auckland where she is majoring in Classical Performance on piano as part of her conjoint degree with a Bachelor of Commerce. Born in Korea, she began learning the instrument at the age of six and attended a conservatoire in Year 8 for one year. After a two-year break from the study, she moved to New Zealand in 2013 and resumed her piano education.

Her achievements include IRMT Margaret Doone Sonata Scholarship 2018 and Piano Trader 21st Century Scholarship 2017 in Auckland, first prize in Piano Programme class at Tauranga Performing Arts Competitions 2017, both Concerto and Composition classes at Rising Stars Competitions 2015 and her LTCL Recital in 2015. Since her entry to the University in 2017, she has been exposed to other areas of music such as Collaborative Piano and Conducting, and her particular interest in Early Keyboard led to her award of the Anna Nathan Early Keyboard Prizes in 2018.

Class of 2018


Phoebe Deng

Phoebe (Modi) Deng is a pianist from Dunedin, New Zealand. She recently completed a Bachelor of Music with Honours with Stephen De Pledge and Rae de Lisle, and a Bachelor of English at Auckland University. In March 2018, she received first prize in the National Concerto Competition, performing Rachmaninov’s Concerto No. 3 with Benjamin Northey and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

As the 2016 and 2018 Haydn Staples Piano Scholar, Phoebe has performed concerti by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Rachmaninov and Clara Schumann with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, and collegiate orchestras. She has participated in masterclasses and lessons with artists such as Michael Houstoun, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Kathryn Stott, Stephen Hough, and Ian Jones. Her playing has been recorded for Radio NZ Concert and SOUNZ Centre for New Zealand Music.

Phoebe has received a variety of prizes including 2015 and 2018 Arts Blues, and being named to the Dean’s Honours List for English. She recently received a full Marsden Research grant for her Masters, and the Judith Clark Memorial Fellowship towards an overseas piano festival.

An avid chamber musician, Phoebe’s trio toured the U.K. in July 2018 as the winner of the Pettman/ROSL Arts Chamber Music Arts scholarship. They performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and at St Martin-in-the-Fields. Her trio also received the Auckland Chamber Music Society Prize last year.


Sara Lee

Sara began her piano studies at the age of six in South Korea and studied for several years with Soo Jung Shin, winning several regional competitions including Dong-A Piano Competition and the Jung ang il bo competition. She moved to Moscow to study piano with Sergei Dorensky and Mikhail Voskresensky at the Tchaikovsky Music School in Moscow and won many awards from the school including its Outstanding Performance Award.

She has since been a prize winner in international and national competitions including the USA Cincinnati World Piano Competition, grand prize (2003); Citta di Barletta in Italy, first prize (2005); Austria International Chopin Piano Competition, second prize and best performance prize (2010); Moscow Young Pianist Competition (2012), and the Lyon International Piano Competition (2012). She won the University of Auckland Graduation Gala Concerto Competition in 2017 and has played concerts in world renowned halls such as Carnegie Hall (USA), the Rachmaninoff Hall of Moscow Conservatory, the Wiener Saal of Mozarteum (Austria), Konzertsal Handel Karee Haus (Germany), and Lyon Conservatory Hall (France). She has participated in masterclass with acclaimed pianists such as Dimitri Bashkirov, Andrej Jasinski, Pavel Gililov, Boris Giltburg. Currently she is studying at the University of Auckland with Rae de Lisle and Stephen de Pledge.


Siyu Sun

Twenty-two year old Siyu Sun began piano studies at the age of four, and is currently studying with Associate Professor Rae de Lisle at The University of Auckland.

Siyu has appeared as soloist with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and Wellington Chamber Orchestra. She was awarded the 2019 Anne Bellam Scholarship, Kathleen Marydon Travelling Scholarship, Alice Cole Piano Scholarship, 2018 Blues Award for Most Meritorious Performance in the Arts and Culture, and the Haydn Staples Piano Scholarship. In 2017, she was the first prize in the National Concerto Competition, second prize in the Wallace National Piano Competition, and fourth prize winner of the Lev Vlassenko International Piano Competition in Brisbane. Siyu is looking forward to furthering her studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in September this year on a scholarship.

Also a passionate chamber musician, Siyu’s piano quartet was the first prize winner of the Auckland Chamber Music Society Prize, and a finalist in the Pettmann/Royal Over-Seas League Chamber Music Scholarship. Siyu has performed in the NZSO National Youth Orchestra on both French horn and orchestral piano.