Cello prodigy, 6, wows audience
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.”