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

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Interior Health hospitals not strained by rising COVID case counts

While provincial hospitalizations rise, health care systems in the B.C. Interior remain robust, say officials

School District 20 is advising the public there has been a positive case of COVID-19 at the Trail high school. Photo: Trail Times
District confirms positive COVID case at Trail high school

The person is at home self-isolating, administration advised on Wednesday

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

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

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

Most Read