In times like these, a little light can go a long way. While Revelstokians are practicing self-isolation, celebrating the people here can help brighten up the day.
Revelstoke youth are often in the limelight. The younger generation in town have showcased impressive art, dropped albums, and excelled in various sports. They do it consistently, and we celebrate the talent, passion and hard work of these young people.
Simi Luttrell is one such inspiring Revelstokian youth. The seventeen year old grade 12 student is a gifted musician. Three weeks ago, before COVID-19 became a global pandemic, he flew to Victoria and Montreal to audition for the music programs at the University of Victoria and McGill University respectively, as a pianist.
Normally, a story like this would detail Luttrell’s early love of music, maybe mentioning how he started the piano before he was in school. But Luttrell is not the norm, demonstrating that discovering what you enjoy can take time, and that hard work and passion take you places.
“When Simi was five, we travelled on a catamaran and we had a guitar on board, but he didn’t have much ambition to play; he preferred to dance. He had a tool box full of trinkets for bracelet making, and I always knew he was an artist,” says his mother, Lucie Robidoux.
Luttrell’s love of music developed in the grade 6 band with Bob Rogers, where he played trombone. Informal guitar lessons with an older youth, Tashi Townley, followed.
Luttrell didn’t start playing the piano until five years ago, when he was thirteen. His family had moved homes within Revelstoke, and the new home had a piano.
“That was it,” says Robidoux. “He loved it, and he pushed himself to learn it.”
“I can’t imagine my life without music,” Luttrell says. “I plan on pursuing it, and I hope to become a professional pianist in a symphony orchestra or work as a soloist.”
Luttrell took lessons with Richard Gingras, a music teacher on sabbatical, before moving on to Cathy Cameron-Suchy. Eventually, he needed instruction from out of town, and is currently working with Carol Schlosar and Sarah Knutson in Salmon Arm.
Piano is not a band instrument, and while he played it to accompany the choir, he took up multiple brass instruments in band class. By grade ten, he knew he wanted to be a professional pianist. He asked Ms. Davis, a supportive music teacher who had pushed him with his piano playing, about concentrating on a second instrument in addition to piano. It would, he figured, give him an edge up when applying for university. Luttrell took up the french horn, a notoriously difficult brass instrument that requires significant breath control to play, in band class.
“Ms. Davis has been a super influential support to me who has inspired me to follow my passion and work hard for it,” he says. “I can’t say enough good things about her.”
At present, Luttrell is working to complete his grade 10 piano (the top piano grade. From there, post secondary training is required) is working on his grade 10 theory.
“We didn’t think he was musically inclined as a little kid,” says Robidoux. “Then he picked it up, and in high school it really escalated quickly. But we wouldn’t have guessed this would be his path from when he was little.”
His parents are supportive but not pushy. They don’t need to be.
“He’s really self motivated,” his mother notes. “He plays at home all of the time because he loves it, not because he has to.”
Lutrell encourages anyone with an interest in music to pick up an instrument and see what happens, or continue playing one they already know.
“I would tell anyone who loves music to stick with it, even if it’s as a hobby. Music can just make you feel better.”
Enjoy the video of Simi Luttrell performing, first movement accompanied by Lida Carey.