March's Young Artist: Luka Coetzee
14 year-old Albertan cellist Luka Coetzee is already a young musician to watch; She is a 4-time winner of the Canadian Music Competition, a prize and scholarship recipient at provincial and national festivals, and has even had a documentary on her life as an artist filmed by the CBC. We were glad Luka was able to spare a moment to be interviewed:
NC: How old were you when you started playing the cello, and how did your musical life begin?
LC: I was one year old when I started playing the cello. My two older sisters were taking cello lessons, so their teacher, Christine Bootland, gave me a viola with an endpin and a small violin bow so that it was like a tiny cello that I could play on! I also wanted lessons and started with Christine as my first teacher. I was intrigued by the sound of the cello, and just by music in general. Currently I am studying with John Kadz, Johanne Perron, and Horacio Contreras. Music has always been a part of my life, and I can’t imagine myself without it.
NC: Are you also part of an orchestra, and do you play any other musical instruments? LC: I have also been playing the piano for 11 years. I’ve been playing in different orchestras at Mount Royal University Conservatory in Calgary, Alberta since I was about 4 years old. I am currently a part of the Academy Chamber Orchestra at the Music Institute of Chicago.
NC: Where have your musical travels taken you, and where do you dream of performing?
LC: I mostly perform in Canada and the United States, but I have also performed in Austria and South Africa. I dream of performing more frequently in Europe because that is where all the great composers lived and studied.
NC: Who or what have been your biggest inspiration as a young musicians?
LC: As a musician, there is a huge variety of different things I get inspired by. Traveling and exploring new cities always inspires me, as well as going to concerts and visiting art museums. One of my biggest inspirations are also the composers I study as well as looking deeper into the pieces written by these genius composers. I have the great privilege working with collaborative artist, Susanne Ruberg-Gordon, who is also a big inspiration to me.
NC: Have you had any performances that really stand out in your mind?
LC: There has been a number of exciting and memorable performance experiences throughout my life. I think that one of the most memorable performances was when my friend and I shared a solo recital in High River, Alberta. I felt an incredible energy from the audience as well as the people I was performing with. Because of this, I think that it came through to my own playing and as a result, I was able to focus on a much higher level, I felt like I was able to explore new things during the performance, and I was able to portray a meaningful message to the audience. By the end of the performance, just the feeling of accomplishment and adrenaline I felt was amazing. After this recital, I am always striving to find this focus and energy so that I’m able to give a gift to the audience through my music.
NC: If you could spend a day with any performing artist (past or present), who would you choose, and why?
LC: Mstislav Rostropovich has always been one of my favourite cellists since I was little. I think it would be amazing to spend a day with him. From what I’ve heard from other people as well as videos and documentaries I’ve watched, he was an incredible teacher, a master musician, and just in general a very inspiring person to be around.
NC: Can you tell us more about your cello ensemble, 3 Sisters Trio, and how it all began?
LC: Since we were very little, my two older sisters (who also play the cello) and I have always enjoyed performing together. In 2017 we decided to start working on projects together as a group called the Three Sisters Trio. Our first project was a music video we filmed for Remembrance Day to honour all who gave their lives for our freedom, featuring the Three Sisters mountains in Canmore, Alberta. In August, we filmed our second music video called “Illuminating Hope” with Vivaldi’s Double Cello Concerto that we arranged for three cellos. In the future, we want to do many similar projects like these, perform in different countries, and also, continue performing at outreach events. Together, through our shared passion of music, we strive to communicate profound emotion and connect people from all backgrounds and languages. You can see our website at www.3sisterscellotrio.com
NC: What is currently on your music playlist?
LC: I have been listening to a big variety of composers lately but especially Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, and Mendelssohn.
NC: If you could only play one piece of music for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
LC: It is hard for me to choose what only piece of music I would want to play for the rest of my life, but I think that Sonata no. 3 in A major for cello and piano by Beethoven would be the one. The underlying complexity of this piece and just all the different emotions that are portrayed throughout are mind blowing to me and I don’t think I would ever get tired of it.
NC: What hobbies do you enjoy aside from music?
LC: I enjoy reading, swimming, science, visiting my sister in New York, traveling, going to art museums, animals, and spending time with family.
NC: How do you successfully balance your school academics with music?
LC: Well it’s not always easy to balance school with music training, but I find that prioritizing really helps me so I know what the most important thing is I need to do. Also, just scheduling my day in advance so I don’t waste time deciding what I need to get done helps. Being homeschooled helps me to have more flexibility with school academics when I’m traveling and performing.
NC: What musical goals do you hope to accomplish in the next 10 years?
LC: In the next 10 years, I want to perform in many different countries as a soloist, finish high school, go to a conservatory to study cello performance, and get my doctoral degree. One of my passions is chamber music, so I would love to possibly play in a professional string quartet. But in general, by performing, I am striving to portray a strong emotional message and give the gift of music to the outside world.
Watch Luka's amazing performance of Antonin Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B minor: