This Sunday the LCH Choir will be singing two motets by the Spanish Renaissance composer, Francisco Guerrero, 1527-1599, “Simile est regnum caelorum” and “Caro mea vere est cibus.” For the prelude, communion and postlude, I will be playing organ music by Italian composer Girolamo Frescobaldi, 1583-1643. Both men were considered to be child prodigies in their day. Guerrero was appointed maestro di capella of Jaén Cathedral when he was only 17 while accounts of the child Frescobaldi tell of his being on tour throughout various cities of Italy. And that led me to think of the phenomenon of the child prodigy.
A “child prodigy” is defined as “a child with a skill set or an ability that is incredibly accomplished, far beyond their years.” We hear many of them perform on the weekly public radio show, “From the Top.” Just last week we heard flutist Emma Resmini, 9, from Fairfax Station, VA, performs Concertino by Cécile Chaminade, and I was in awe at her musical phrasing and virtuosity. And only 9 years old!
You can read an interesting article by Alissa Quart, “The Downside of Being a Child Prodigy” by clicking here. A couple of years ago I read the autobiography of the pianist, Lang Lang, Journey of a Thousand Miles. In this book, Lang Lang tells of his “heartbreaking, dramatic, and ultimately triumphant story.” The book “documents the remarkable, dramatic story of a family who sacrificed almost everything — his parents’ marraige, financial security, Lang Lang’s childhood, and their reputation in China’s insular classical music world — for the belief in a young boy’s talent. And it reveals the devastating and intense relationship between a boy and his father, who was willing to go to any length to make his son a star.” I heartily recommend the reading of this book to anyone who is studying music and isn’t aware of the hard work and sacrifices it takes.
I’m so glad I wasn’t a prodigy!