‘Very close to our hearts:’ Cello sisters dedicate new song to fallen soldiers


CALGARY — A new video featuring three Alberta cello-playing prodigies is being released on Remembrance Day and is dedicated to Canada’s fallen soldiers.

The three Coetzee sisters — Mari, Ine and Luka — lugged their cellos up Mount Lady MacDonald near Canmore, Alta., to shoot the video in early September.

“The cello is the musical instrument that most closely sounds like a human voice. We want those who are lost to have a voice … the oppressed, soldiers who are in wars,” said Ine Coetzee, 18, at the family home in southwest Calgary.

“We want to have a very powerful message with this video because it’s a piece that we use to remember those who we love … who have passed away.”

She said the sisters first played the song “Requiem for Three Cellos and Piano” by David Popper in their native South Africa the year that both of their grandfathers died.

“Since then we’ve always wanted to bring it out and have it as a remembrance for everyone who has meant something to Canada, to the world.”

The family came to Canada 17 years ago from South Africa and settled in Brooks, Alta., about two hours east of Calgary. The sisters’ father, Maarten Coetzee, is a doctor and served five years in the South African military.

The oldest sister, Mari, is turning 21 later this month. She’s an honours student pursuing a bachelors degree in cello performance from the New York-based Julliard School of Music.

Luka, who at 12 is the youngest and started playing at three, said the song is important to all of them.

“Our grandfathers have made a difference in our lives and we have loved them a lot and we are very happy that we can give something back to the world,” she said.

“It’s a very, very beautiful piece and it’s something that’s very, very close to our hearts together as a group.”

The video begins with the three cellists sitting on chairs at Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park. It’s no coincidence that the mountain range in the background is known as the Three Sisters.

“The Three Sisters peaks are very beautiful because each has a nickname. The oldest sister on the left is called Faith and in the middle is Charity and the younger sister is Hope,” Ine Coetzee said.

“Those three words are really part of the message that we want to give. It just all fell into place after that.”

The “Journey of Remembrance” video is being premiered Saturday at The Military Museums in Calgary with the quote: “We pay respect to the heroes of the past with the conviction that those who gave their lives to protect the vulnerable did so to inspire us to do the same.

“Lest we Forget.”

Retha Coetzee said she’s proud that her daughters, who come from a privileged background, are willing to give something back.

“I’m very excited for the three girls to play together and doing something more substantial with their music and giving back to society,” she said.

“They are very privileged to be able to study music and I’m excited that they will be able to give something back and make a difference in people’s lives.”

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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press