Ovation’s new series, “Young Marvels,” looks at the incredible children who are making landmark achievements in all areas of the arts. The series will feature several remarkable prodigies, exploring their intense world of juggling practices or studio time with the day-to-day stresses of just being a kid. Through each of their stories, we’ll discover what it’s like to grow up with immense artistic gifts and the hardships and sacrifices that accompany such great powers.
Sophia's Big Audition
Meet the Young Marvels
Charlie’s been playing the cello since he was only 4 years old. He soon wowed his teachers, and today, studies at Juilliard’s exclusive pre-college program. Training at such an elite level can be stressful as Charlie juggles a long commute to his lessons with playing sports, doing his homework and hanging out with friends. Fortunately, Charlie’s family is hugely supportive of his music career – his two brothers, father and grandfather are all accomplished musicians and family time often becomes practice time. Charlie can’t picture his life without cello but sometimes feels like he has a split personality – "Charles" the consummate musician and "Charlie" – the class clown who just wants to have fun.
Clark has been singing since before he could walk. He attended his first opera when he was only 2 years old and was hooked. His mother – who has a degree in music education – recognized his talent and decided to give him voice and piano lessons. Clark accelerated quickly, and today, he packs his after-school hours with private vocal lessons and major performances. He has a surprisingly mature voice that stuns audiences – but even he doesn’t know what to expect when his voices changes. Will he become the tenor he wants to be?
Duncan grew up in the great outdoors of rural Vermont, where at 7 years old, he followed his sister to his first ballet class. Being the only boy in ballet school didn’t deter him, and by age 10, he was taking summer classes at American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in New York City. Duncan never dreamed that dance would take over his life, but it did last year when he accepted a coveted spot at ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. Pursuing ballet full time in New York meant a big move for Duncan and his mother, and living apart from his father and friends in Vermont has not been easy.
Lev is a blond-haired pistol packed into a tiny suit, and at 8 years old, has already won multiple national, state and regional championships for ballroom dance in cha-cha, tango, samba, waltz and jive. Lev’s parents emigrated from Russia just three years ago and enforce a strict Russian discipline in everything he does, including his dance training. Lev admits to missing out on playtime, but more than that, he misses his father who still spends half the year in Russia as a lawyer. Lev’s mother is definitely his biggest champion, and with Lev’s father away so much, she and Lev are not just mother and son, but best friends as well.
When Sophia was 6 years old, her mother enrolled her in a soccer camp. But it wasn’t enough for this little ball of energy so next came dance camp, just to keep her busy. After one day, Sophia knew that dance was her destiny and she hasn’t stopped since. Now, Sophia and her mother spend hours commuting from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles where Sophia trains with the hottest choreographers in the industry. She fills every remaining hour with private dance lessons in hip hop, contemporary and ballet to sharpen her game, in the hopes of eventually booking a gig with a major label artist. With dance ruling her life, Sophia wants to homeschool next year to allow even more time for training – but her mother isn’t so sure that missing out on high school is the best thing for her driven daughter.
Mae Ya, 12
Although Mae Ya is only 12 years old, her powerful singing voice often leads people to believe that she is older, and much wiser. Inspired by many of her mother Ina’s favorite singers – women like Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald – Mae Ya attends public school and trains at Chicago’s Merit School of Music where she studies piano and music theory in addition to classical voice training. It took some persuading before Ina really believed that Mae Ya had exceptional abilities, but hearing Mae Ya’s voice echo through the house at 8 years old convinced her. Ina constantly instills discipline in Mae Ya, and works diligently and inventively to get her noticed by the arts community so their dream of Mae Ya becoming a professional recording artist can be realized.
The New York Daily News calls 8-year-old Mabou, "Supergirl." This pint-sized polyglot communicates and sings in eight languages (Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Creole, Japanese, Arabic, French, English and American Sign Language) and plays numerous instruments (piano, flute, and more). Mabou is homeschooled by her mother, and together, they are working toward her goal of attending Harvard at an early age.
Musician and composer Matthew was born prematurely, causing him to lose his sight. His parents noticed early on that he was happiest when music was playing and were blown away when, at age 3, Matthew picked up a keyboard for the first time and played "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." Now 13, Matthew plays the organ, piano and drums, and studies at several music schools, focusing on both classical training – and his favorite, jazz. Thanks to parents who’ve raised him to defy his disability, Matthew’s performed in acclaimed venues all over the world – from Italy to Morocco to New York City, where he performed for Stevie Wonder’s induction into the Apollo Theater’s Hall of Fame.