Meet Lucas and Irina meachem: A Special Interview, by Adriana Roath, HORA member
Two months following the HORA benefit concert, Irina and Lucas Meacheam graciously agreed to do a written interview for HORA’s newsletter. We asked them a few questions about their backgrounds, work and performances.
Adriana: Irina, please tell us a little about your musical education.
Irina: I spent many years of practicing and going to music school. At 15, I went from small-town Minnesota to Bucuresti, Romania at the George Enescu High School of Music. I came back to Minneapolis to finish high school and I attended the MacPhail Center of Music, which was a very positive and beneficial experience for a young classical musician. I attended Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin for my undergraduate in Piano Performance. I preferred collaborating with other musicians so I attended Florida State University for my Master’s in Collaborative Piano.
A: How did you gain a love for music?
I: I hated piano at the beginning. My mother forced me to take piano lessons starting at age 5 and I kicked, screamed, and cried at every lesson. Thankfully, she never let me quit. At about 13 years old, I began listening to various piano CD’s in my mother’s home collection and I was awe-struck. I would lay down on the living room floor, blast the music of Chopin, Liszt, Bach, full volume and just escape. I checked out music books from the library–literally stacks taller than me–, and I dove into practicing.
A: How did living and studying in Bucharest shape your musical career?
I: Attending George Enescu allowed me to focus my energy solely on music. I was very determined to dedicate the necessary time and effort into my craft, and the school granted me full reign on my schedule. My science and math classes were very easy but my music theory and history classes were extremely advanced. I practiced every day at their facilities. Most importantly, my classmates were equally passionate about the arts and I felt like I belonged in the social groups–something I never felt attending an American high school.
A: Lucas, first of all congratulations on sharing the Grammy’s award for Best Opera Recording. What was it like to hear your name called at the Grammy’s ceremony?
L: It was surreal. Time slowed down for me as I walked to the stage and my speech is all a blur for me now. Leading up to the Grammys I didn’t really care about the nomination very much. I was honored to be nominated but a Grammy doesn’t mean as much in the Classical world as it does in the world of popular music. Once my name was announced I had a complete turn around. At first I did’t know that I had won because they mispronounced the name of the first person who was on the list. Then, as she continued to read the list I heard names from my show and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I continue to be awed and inspired by the event itself. A collection of the some of the most talented musicians on the planet in one place and there I was with some of the most important people in my life to witness it. It was truly an amazing experience.
A: You recently called Minnesota your new home. Please tell us about what it has been like to be part of the American-Romanian community in Minnesota.
L: A dream!! I love my new family and my new city. Every time I get to come home is a blessing. My Romanian family take such good care of me and my wife. I love being able to spend time with them and just relax as a family. We don’t even need to be doing anything special. I haven’t lived this close to family since I was in High School over 20 years ago. Things in the Twin Cities are just easy. Nothing is more than 15 minutes away and the people here are so incredibly nice. Chores and errands are easy and the biggest thing for me is that I can spread my clothes out in my closet and not worry about having to making sure they are easily accessible for my next trip. Oh, and my bed. I have a great bed. Minneapolis has truly become my new home.