Maggie Lu’s photograph Crystalline – taken when she was 14 – won a pace in a prestigious exhibition at Somerset House in the UK. Contributed photo

Maggie Lu’s photograph Crystalline – taken when she was 14 – won a pace in a prestigious exhibition at Somerset House in the UK. Contributed photo

B.C. teen’s artistic gifts have her pursuing bachelor’s, master’s degrees at age 16

After skipping three grades, Maggie Lu was admitted to UBC at age 14

Maggie Lu is already an award-winning professional musician, artist and writer.

That should be exceptional enough, given that the young South Surrey resident has three years to go before she finishes her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music composition at UBC.

But it’s off-the-chart amazing when you consider that Lu is still only 16 years old.

Speaking with the mature-sounding prodigy during a recent phone interview it’s interesting how modest and matter-of-fact she is about her accomplishments.

Lu who plays piano, also enjoys writing poetry and fiction, doing photography and creating art in her preferred media of pencils and watercolours.

Describing her activities as “very rewarding,” she says part of her aim in publicizing them is to “promote art as a meaningful activity for other people.”

“If I can inspire people, that really means a lot to me,” she said. “If, through what I do, I can help someone reach their potential, or realize they have potential, that makes me happy. I think everyone is creative – that’s an important part of humanity.”

Born in Vancouver, she moved to Surrey with her family when she was eight years old, she explained, attending Woodward’s Hill Elementary and Highland Elementary.

When asked how she got to UBC at age 14, she replies simply, “I skipped a bunch of grades.”

In fact, at age 12 she bypassed Grades 8, 9 and 10, and entered a Grade 11 and 12 program geared for early admission to UBC.

Her gifts were manifest early, she acknowledges.

“All of these things were part of my life very early on – as far back as I can remember,” she said.

“I was around four or five when I first started taking piano lessons. Art started as soon as I could hold a pencil. When I was 11, I started teaching art at my elementary school, and then started selling my art and poetry online.”

Racking up more than 17,000 followers to date, her art work has been purchased by buyers in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Belgium, the Czech Republic and Australia. Her photograph, Crystalline – taken when she was 14 – won a commendation in the World Photography Organization/Sony World Photography Awards and was featured in an international exhibition in Somerset House in the U.K.

She was a published author by the time she was 11 – the same year she won a Rotary Club-sponsored Get To Know Poetry Prize – and she has won bronze in the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition as well as contributing content to the Ubyssey (UBC’s magazine).

Her musical accomplishments alone would set her apart – she was still in elementary school when she gained a diploma in piano performance from the Royal Conservatory and 10 years old when she performed with South Surrey-based band The Wilds in one of their concerts to promote environmental sustainability.

Her performance and composition won her scholarships for her simultaneous bachelor’s and master’s degrees, her solo performances have raised money for the Vancouver Food Bank, several hospitals and the Canadian Music therapy Trust Fund and her music has reached such diverse venues as the Bell Centre for the Performing Arts, the Goldcorp Centre, Pyatt Hall and the Roy Barnett Recital Hall.

Lu said it’s hard for her to pick a favourite out of her many activities – they’re all too closely linked in her mind, she explained.

“I associate music with visual colours and textures – it’s a form of synesthesia,” she said.

“All of them come from my passion for expression and creativity – they’re not really separate things, but different ways of expressing myself.”

If any one of the disciplines is receiving less of her attention these days it would be poetry – there are only so many hours in the day, Lu notes.

But as well as having a good relationship with her highly supportive parents, she also has “a wonderful group of friends,” she said.

“I do do these things, but I’m not sacrificing my social life,” she noted.

Since she’s just old enough to start learning to drive, she finds a lot of her time taken up with the transit commute to UBC – two hours each way.

But typically, she doesn’t see that as a negative.

“It’s a chance to clear my mind, looking out of the window,” she said.

“A lot of my imaginative ideas come from that – both artistic ideas and musical ideas.”



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Window to the Soul is a colour pencil work by Maggie Lu, who also enjoys painting with watercolours. Contributed photo

Window to the Soul is a colour pencil work by Maggie Lu, who also enjoys painting with watercolours. Contributed photo

Just Posted

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires Vancouver Island wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

The Port Alberni Train Station is located outside the entrance to Harbour Quay, on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)
Port Alberni gets funding to restore heritage train station

Historic train station needs seismic upgrades

Raw logs are loaded onto a logging ship from a log sort down the Alberni Inlet in March 2019. SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News
Port Alberni light on industrial land

Report finds few suitable locations for new industry

Cowichan Valley writer Jennifer Manuel will headlining YakFest on March 1. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Cowichan Valley writer to headline next YakFest on March 1

YakFest is a B.C.-based monthly women’s event held online via Zoom

The North Island College campus in Port Alberni is located on Roger Street. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
North Island College plans tourism networking event

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on Vancouver Island’s tourism industry

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

A crossover utility vehicle smashed through the front of a business on Bowen Road on Friday evening. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Vehicle smashes all the way inside business in Nanaimo

No serious injuries reported after incident at Venue Financial Centres on Friday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

RCMP say a woman turned herself in to police after hitting a pedestrian and fleeing the scene of the accident in downtown Nanaimo on Friday morning. (File photo)
Driver flees, then turns herself in after hitting pedestrian in downtown Nanaimo

RCMP say woman was struck in marked crosswalk after driver ran red light

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

Most Read