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Are We Ruining Prodigies?
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Author: Tim Page
Talented young musicians run the risk of burning out early

The author G.K. Chesterton called the act of stealing a child’s toy the cruelest crime of all. But what if childhood itself is stolen away?

By now, some of you may have run across a certain young soprano named Jackie Evancho. The 11-year old from Pittsburgh, introduced to the public on the television program “America’s Got Talent,” has since gone on to release two full-length albums, which have collectively sold several million units. PBS went so far as to present a filmed “live concert” of her album “Dream With Me” on “Great Performances,” once the domain of Leonard Bernstein, Vladimir Horowitz and the Metropolitan Opera.

Jackie Evancho



By certain standards, Evancho may now be a “superstar,” as Andy Warhol would have understood the term. But she has many years of work ahead of her before she becomes any sort of musician — and I fear that this premature and unwarranted exposure will ruin a genuine and valuable talent. A sweet-faced child with a naturally pretty voice is being primed, packaged and promoted as though she were a finished artist. And she isn’t — not yet anyway. Right now she reminds me a lot more of JonBenet Ramsey than she does of Maria Callas. Just what do we hear when we put on a Jackie Evancho recording? “O Mio Babbino Caro” will do for a start. One is startled immediately by the lush sound that Evancho makes, which would never be expected from somebody her age. But then the worries............

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  Tags:   CONCERT HALL    Ethics    Let's Talk About.....    MUSIC SCHOOL    OPERA HOUSE    Evancho    prodigy    musical genius


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