"We have decided that we're not looking to them for whatever powerful feelings we need to have confirmed, expressed or challenged." Instead, he said, society tends to hail children who are precocious in mathematics, computer skills and chess.
And classical-music audiences have themselves become somewhat inured to prodigies.
But they have been made cautious by the troubled history of so many musical prodigies: mental breakdowns, antisocial behavior, substance abuse. Speaking of her remarkable technical skills, the conductor and former violinist Sir Neville Marriner said: "Sarah is . Because musical technique, like mathematics, chess and computer skills, is built on patterns that can be memorized, young children can learn it with some facility.
What sets Sarah apart, according to many, is her ability to remake a piece with each performance, suffusing it with a passionate musicality.
Sarah and her generation arguably face a more tortuous path than the Menuhins and Heifetzes of an earlier era. I see her doing things that if I had studied for 150 years, I couldn't do.
Sarah's parents, teachers, agents and record producers have a ferocious desire to see her transcend the novelty years to become an enduring star. Yet many believe that if Sarah can emerge unscathed from adolescence, a star soloist's spot awaits her. The simplicity with which she deals with the instrument is very unsettling." But great hands are not enough.
This late August concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in upstate New York was her last date in what had been a breathless summer: Korea, Italy, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Aspen, Montreal, the Hollywood Bowl.Just seven years ago, the 14-year-old Midori astonished the world when she coolly finished a performance with Leonard Bernstein and the Boston Symphony despite two broken strings. Enrollment in the exclusive precollege division of the Juilliard School of Music in New York, where Sarah Chang has studied since she was 6, is at an uncomfortable 320; 41 percent of the students are between first and eighth grades.Dorothy De Lay, the Juilliard violin teacher whose pupils have included Midori, Itzhak Perlman, Shlomo Mintz and Nigel Kennedy, said that an unprecedented five of her young charges, including Sarah, have commercial managers, and that the overall level of ability among even the littlest applicants astonishes her.Audiences have become so accustomed to the sight of pint-size performers that it is hard to build a following.Competition even younger than Sarah is surging from behind, as her comparative elders pile up just ahead: a growing corps of vigorous violinists in their late teens and early 20's, including Maxim Vengerov, Midori, Joshua Bell and Gil Shaham. The programme also includes a collection of delightful Zarzuela arias, sung by Ana Maria Martinez, winner of the Plácido Domingo Vocal Competition in Barcelona.