SAM AND MEG LUCAS are well aware of how fortunate they are to have a world-class concert hall on their doorstep — literally.
THE 17-YEAR-OLD twins are the children of Ian and Lee Lucas, owners of the extraordinary Lucas Parklands concert venue in Montville. Both classical musicians, Sam and Meg not only have access to a custom-built performance venue at their home, they are also given the rare opportunity to play with worldclass musicians performing at the venue throughout the year.
Currently completing Year 12 at Nambour Christian College, the siblings have the world at their feet. They began learning piano at the age of four and Sam took up cello at 12, while Meg went with violin and percussion. While both are exceptional musicians, Sam is intent on a career as an international soloist, while Meg plans to use her outstanding academic record to forge a career that combines music with either law or business.
While Meg loves the sound of the cello, she sensibly chose a different instrument in order to lessen potential sibling rivalry, but says her relationship with her brother is characterised by a “healthy competition” nonetheless.
“In eisstedfords it was always Sam first, me second, but there was one year when I finally beat Sam,” she says gleefully.
“Back then I was about 13 years old and hardly interested in the cello, so it wasn’t a big deal,” says Sam, saving face. But he’s quick to point out that when it comes to school, Meg is the clear winner. Combining two hours of violin practice a day with four hours of study to keep on top of eight subjects, Meg is on track to receive a top OP score of one to five.
“I love studying,” she says. “I love correct work ethics and striving for the best. Hopefully music will help me get that OP because it’s very highly ranked, so that’s an advantage.”
“Let’s just say whatever she picks in life she’ll be the best at it,” says Sam, who was given permission to drop subjects at school in order to practice cello — he clocks up six hours a day and has no social life outside music.
“Social life is a no-go for me,” says Sam. “You have to sacrifice a lot of social life to succeed in what you want to do. I wouldn’t have done anywhere near the amount I’ve done if I’d sacrificed cello for movie nights with people. When you’re at the movies, that’s when you could be practicing.”
Currently studying with David Lale, Principal Cellist of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Sam has recorded a CD at Lucas Parklands and has a string of awards and high-profile performances under his belt.
In 2011 he won the Australian Concerto Competition for the under-18 age group and was one of the invited Young Rising Star performers at the 2011 Adelaide International Cello Festival. In 2012, he performed the Saint Saëns Cello Concerto to much acclaim with the Sunshine Coast Symphony Orchestra, and performed as a soloist with concert pianist Evgeny Genchev at the Sofia Music Festival in Bulgaria. He was a semi-finalist in the 2012 Gisborne International Music Competition and received the International String Player award. He has performed with Alexey Yemtsov and Konstantin Shamray and in 2012, achieved both an A.Mus A with distinction and an L.Mus A
“People say I’m a prodigy,” says Sam. “I don’t believe I’m a prodigy; people associate prodigies with age — you’re a prodigy when you’re four, not when you’re 17. But people do say I have the same talent.”
Meg jumps in to praise her brother: “It takes hard work; success doesn’t come from nothing. This is what he’s wanted to do and has known it since he was 13.”
The twins cite the unwavering support of their parents as key to their success. Ian is a former pilot and pianist who studied at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music and Lee is an avid music lover who organises the music program at Lucas Parklands.
“When I was about nine and I was doing piano and sax, Dad noticed I had talent,” says Sam. “I was born with pure perfect pitch. I was picking notes when I was very young and Dad knew there was something there.”
“There’s never been a moment where they’ve said, ‘why don’t you just quit?’” says Meg. “They say, ‘keep going, don’t give it away’. We’ve been surrounded by that environment of courage and support. They’ve sacrificed a lot to help us. What has really stuck is they said whatever your passion is, run with it, don’t do something you don’t like.”
Sam adds: “Or don’t start something and give up half way. And if it’s not fun, it’s defeating the purpose. There have been a lot of times where I just thought I’d like to give this up for at least six months. There’s the pressure of competitions, people saying you’re never going to be good enough. Lack of encouragement from other people made me feel like I might give it up for a while, but it never happened.
“I was questioning myself last year. A soloist is the top of the field — you have to be the best in the world. Today’s world soloists were prodigies when they were four and nine and I was questioning myself because I started so late. But this year I’m in the top three in Australia out of all instruments, so I’m not really questioning myself anymore. It’s all there and I’m where I want to be.”
Having enjoyed her fair share of the musical spotlight, Meg knows exactly where he’s coming from.
“These moments arise when you’ve practiced so hard and you really think you have a chance and all your work might be circles down the drain,” she says, adding that she takes any critique of her performances to heart. “The only way to gain success is to learn from your failures.”
“You’ll always lose more than you win,” Sam says. “That’s why when you win, it’s such a great feeling, especially if you win a big one.”
For Meg, winning means achieving top marks in her Year 12 exams and passing a final diploma of music performance and violin, her aim to be accepted into the University of Tasmania, which has one of Australia’s best symphony orchestras.
For Sam, the world stage beckons. He hopes to study music at either the Waikato University in New Zealand or the Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne and go on to become an international soloist.
But for now, his mind is focused on one careermaking competition: selected as a finalist in the 2013 National Youth Concerto Competition, Sam will perform the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the Queensland Youth Symphony on October 13. A win will bring him international fame and will supercharge what is already shaping up to be a brilliant career.
by Leigh Robshaw