Cello prodigy, 6, wows au­di­ence

Calgary Herald - - CITY & REGION - BRYCE FORBES

Stand­ing on the stage in the Palomino Room at the BMO Cen­tre, a six-year-old girl took com­mand.

In a lit­tle white dress with a cello that is nearly as big as she is, Luka Coet­zee’s lit­tle left hand danced across the strings with the right hand us­ing the bow.

She per­formed Lights and Shad­ows by Ru­dolf Matz in front of 300 peo­ple at the Feast of Sound and Song, hosted by Mount Royal Univer­sity, earn­ing a par­tial stand­ing ova­tion when she took her fi­nal bow.

Yet, for the young girl, she said she wasn’t ner­vous.

“She wasn’t ner­vous at all,” said her mother Retha. “She was re­ally ex­cited to play. When she was in re­hearsal, I knew she would be fine.

“She is so con­fi­dent and re­ally en­joyed this.”

Luka comes from a mu­si­cal fam­ily, with her mother and two older sis­ters all play­ing the cello. The fam­ily moved to Brooks 11 years ago from South Africa, with the fa­ther open­ing a gen­eral prac­tice.

Luka first started play­ing when she was just a year old, pick­ing up a vi­ola and bow when her sis­ters would prac­tise.

Mari, 14, and Ine, 12, first started train­ing with Chris­tine Boot­land be­fore mov­ing onto John Kadz.

It was dur­ing these lessons Luka got her start.

“She would cry to Chris­tine when she was only one, one and a half, say­ing my les­son,” Retha said. “She would ask for a les­son and Chris­tine would let her play as much as she wanted, al­ways as much as she wanted.”

But while she has the tal­ent, it’s the love of mu­sic that also helps push young Luka along.

“I love the sound that it makes,” Luka said, who was shy dur­ing the in­ter­view, only say­ing a few sen­tences.

“Every­thing is go­ing on her pace which is why it’s so great,” Retha said. “She would go in the morn­ing, put on her gold shoes, grab her case and go and play on her own.”

Luka also en­joys swim­ming, danc­ing and has been play­ing the pi­ano since she was three years old, just like her mother and sis­ters.

Now, it’s just a lot of hard work for Retha and her three kids who spend Fri­day through Mon­day ev­ery week in Cal­gary prac­tis­ing with the Mount Royal Univer­sity Con­ser­va­tory Academy for Gifted Youth pro­gram.

“It’s pretty in­tense but we love it,” Retha said, who added her fam­ily bought a condo near Mount Royal Univer­sity to help out with trav­el­ling.

“They are en­joy­ing what they do, all three of them.”

Ted Rhodes, Cal­gary Her­ald

Luka Coet­zee, 6, poses with her cello af­ter her per­for­mance Sun­day night at the BMO Cen­tre.

Six-year-old prodigy Luka Coet­zee wows the crowd with her cello per­for­mance at the Mount Royal Univer­sity Con­ser­va­tory’s an­nual show Sun­day night at the BMO Cen­tre.

Pho­tos, Ted Rhodes, Cal­gary Her­ald

Luka Coet­zee, 6, and her mom Retha.


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