Kit Armstrong, the original prodigy

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I have taught in many places, and been educated by many children.  Chanticleer garden has been the backdrop of some of my most treasured teaching memories.  If we lose some of the children we meet along the way, we never forget them.

Tonight, at dinner, apropos of nothing, my son asked whatever happened to Kit Armstrong, one of the students I had the privilege of getting to know six summers ago.  He'd come to us (via Betty Jean) as a young composer—a 12-year-old (at the time) who already had seven years of composition and piano studies under his belt, who had enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student in music and science by the age of nine, and who was known for his bowtie stints on the David Letterman Show.  He'd not had the chance to explore creative writing when I first met him, but he emerged at once as a talent.  More than that, always more importantly than that, he was this kid that we all quickly grew to love.  No snobbery in him.  No better-than-ism.  Just this kid who loved music and science and language, and whose laugh made us laugh, whenever we heard it in the garden.

"I don't know what happened to Kit," I told my son, who sensed my sadness at once.  "Google him," my son said.  And, of course, I just did.

How happy does it make me to find Kit here, on his web site, as beautiful as he was six years ago.  How delighted am I to learn that just this summer he was awarded the "Leonard Bernstein Award" and that his piano repertoire (and I quote) "includes the 48 Preludes and Fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier by Bach, all Mozart Piano Sonatas, 15 Beethoven Piano Sonatas, as well as works by Haydn, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, Bartok, and Ligeti. His concerto repertoire comprises works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, and Bartok."  If that doesn't impress you, then how about this:  He was awarded the Morton Gould Young Composer Award for five consecutive years, and he now performs all over the world with major orchestras.

People like Kit don't come around too often.  I am waving to him now, across the internet.


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