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

Signs at a new COVID-19 testing and collection centre at 14577 66th Ave. in Surrey. It was relocated from an urgent primary care centre near Surrey Memorial Hospital. This new centre allows for up to 800 tests per day, which is 550 more than the previous centre, according to Fraser Health. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
More than 200 new COVID-19 cases linked to Fraser Health region: Dr. Henry

Provincial health officer appeals to people to keep gatherings small

/ Kevin Mills Photo
BC NDP leader tours through downtown Mission

John Horgan talked to local business owners, accompanied by candidates Pam Alexis and Bob D’Eith

Mia Gill, with cousin Gavin Nahal, presents a cheque of just over $1,400 for the pediatrics unit at Abbotsford Regional Hospital. (Submitted photo)
Teen presents birthday cash to Abbotsford Regional Hospital for 8th year

Mia Gill has been donating to pediatrics unit every year since 2013

Jodie Fedun said her brother Jarrett Whitford hasn’t been heard from since early September, and his bank card was last used in Hope. (Submitted/Facebook photo)
Police spot missing Alberta man on video, in Hope

Family have not heard from Jarrett Whitford, 31, since early September

The Vancouver Canucks and Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen have agreed to a two-year deal with an average annual salary of $2.55 million. (@Canucks Twitter photo)
Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen, Vancouver Canucks agree to two-year deal

Two sides avoid arbitration, Virtanen will receive average annual salary of $2.55 million

Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien gives instructions during practice in Brossard, Que., Tuesday, July 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Julien energized by Canadiens’ busy off-season: ‘I expect us to make the playoffs’

Julien energized by Canadiens’ busy off-season: ‘I expect us to make the playoffs’

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Squirrels recovering from tail amputation after sap situation near Victoria

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

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

Most Read