VERMONT'S FIRST BRAINCHILDREN
SUNDAY APRIL 1, 2012


PRODIGIES IN HISTORY

      The Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Arts, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, and the archivists of 38 states have joined to pay tribute to the thousands of prodigies in every state whose commitment to the arts have proved invaluable to American society.
      April will be the nation's first Prodigy's History Month.
      "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart began playing the piano at age 3. At age 4, he had picked up the violin. By 8, he had already written his first symphony. By 12, his first opera," Lacey Rose reported in "Whiz Kids" in Forbes Magazine.
      "Mozart is perhaps history's best known example of a child prodigy. But despite our collective fascination with pint-sized geniuses, there is limited research into prodigies--and almost no consensus on what causes them, or even an exact definition."
      The national designation began here in Vermont in 2009 when then-Governor Jim Douglas and State Archivist Gregory Sanford petitioned the U.S. Congress to authorize and request the President to proclaim the month beginning April 1, 2010, as "Prodigy's History Month." The request took two extra years to go through Congress but 2012 is indeed the first of many future annual celebrations in most states.
Check the Date
      Vermont will fete three Franklin County prodigies in the opening ceremonies on the Statehouse lawn in Montpelier on Sunday afternoon. Those ceremonies will be streamed live to the new Taylor Park 18' stadium television screen thanks to Northwest Access TV. Beau Vine and the Buckamoos, all four of whom were themselves under age four when they began their music career on these pages in 2006, will perform at the bandshell after the statewide ceremonies.
      The atmospheric landscape paintings of then-emerging artist Mandana Bertrand caused a stir from Montpelier, Vermont, to Montpellier, France. Born in Montgomery in 1900, Ms. Bertrand was just 4 (and her works painted when she was even younger) at the time of her first international exhibit. She lived and painted in Montgomery all of her life.
      At the age of 5, Poet Laureate, pianist, and composer Ethel Coffin of Fairfield was already reading English, French, Spanish, and Latin. She translated Latin verse at age 9 and wrote her first epic poem at 10, the same year she performed her first piano concerto at the White House for then-President Lyndon Johnson. She now lives, writes, and teaches from her home in Bakersfield.
      Franklin O'Daigh was born in 1924 in Sheldon. He not only determined in 1934 that 10 is a solitary number but also solved the Happy Ending problem. Dr. O'Daigh has retired from teaching and now lives in Burlington.
Remember the Date
      Prodigy's History Month continues after April 1 with activities throughout the state. There will be two free concerts of Ms. Coffin's works, one at Higher Ground and one in the MVU Theater, a solo exhibit of Ms. Bertrand's paintings at the Opera House at Enosburg Falls, and a lecture by Dr. O'Daigh at the St. Albans Historical Museum. Area teachers can also put ready-to-use lesson plans, student activities, collection guides, and research aids to work in the classroom. Visit ticketmaster.allarts.org for tickets, schedules, and to download materials.


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A small closing note: People regularly asked me about tickets in the week or so before this event and still tell me how sorry they are to have missed it.

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