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

Just Posted

Hakai Institute’s new video is a 51-minute tour of the slide area, giving researchers a detailed view of the devastation. Photo courtesy Hakai Institute.
Researchers see learning opportunity as ‘silver lining’ of Bute Inlet slide

Quadra Island-based Hakai Institute releases 51-minute video of slide area

Leanne McIntee (left), KDC Health’s Mobile Outreach Coordinator, accepts a cheque from Darcy Millar of the Campbell River Kinsmen Club for the MOUHSS’ programming. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Campbell River’s Get the Point project helps clean streets, break down stigma

Get the Point is part of the KDC Health peer mentorship program, which is looking to expand

Good Food Boxes are packed in Gold River for people of that community. Greenways is working on expanding the program to other communities including Campbell River. Photo supplied by Greenways Land Trust
Good Food Box program coming to Campbell River

Greenways’ program will provide food to six communities in Strathcona area

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

Eden Robinson will be ‘on hand’ for a special online screening of Monkey Beach, based on her 2000 novel, presented by the Museum at Campbell River through the Tidemark Theatre Feb. 4. Photo by Bluetree Photography
Museum at Campbell River to screen Monkey Beach and Q&A with Eden Robinson

Last year’s Haig-Brown Writer-in-Residence’s work has skyrocketed to justifiable fame in the past year

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

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

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read