Nathan Soong has placed four times in Musica Viva's Young Performers Scholarship, but this year he took out the top gong in the piano section.
Soong has studied the piano since he was 3 with his teacher, Angela Cook. In 2018, he completed his Advanced Certificate in Piano coming top in New Zealand. Last year, Soong completed his LTCL in piano with distinction from Trinity College London. The diploma is equivalent in standard to the final-year recital of an undergraduate degree.
Soong, 16, is studying to complete a bachelor's degree in chemical and bioprocess engineering at Massey University, and in his spare time enjoys tramping.
The three winners of the scholarship, supported by the Rotary Club of Palmerston North, were announced at a concert on Sunday.
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The winner of the vocal section was Lydia Monzeglio, who has always had a love for music and singing. She was born and raised in South Africa and made her singing debut there in 2016 in Mozart's Magic Flute.
Since moving to New Zealand in 2020, she has been training with Mary Ayres.
The winner of the instrumental section was Sophie Ward who began learning violin at 7. In 2019, she was awarded the Trinity College London silver medal for attaining the highest grade 8 mark in Manawatū.
Ward enjoys playing violin in the NZ Secondary Schools Orchestra and occasionally in the Manawatū Sinfonia, as well as the viola in the Manawatū Youth Orchestra. She also plays viola and saxophone in various school ensembles. She studies violin with Elizabeth Patchett.
At Sunday's concert at the Globe Theatre, all three place-getters in each of the sections performed one or two pieces from their repertoire for the competition held on October 2.
The other piano finalists were Ben Kang and Isabel Lu; the other instrumental finalists were Isabel Lu (violin) and Isabella Li (cello); while Tom Varney and Carson Taare were place-getters in the vocal section.
The adjudicators were Julie Coulson for piano and voice, and Robert Ibell for the instrumental competition. The first prize in each section is $500, second $300 and third $200.