Kyung Wha Chung complains about coughing child during 'tetchy' comeback concert

4 December 2014, 12:30

During her first London concert in 12 years, the legendary violinist told the parents of a coughing child, 'Maybe bring her back when she’s older'.

Chung’s performance (above) on 2 December at the Royal Festival Hall was supposed to be a triumphant return for the violinist, whose career was cut short in 2005 by an injury to her left index finger.

But the concert has instead made headlines for Chung's comment telling the parents of a coughing child in the audience “Maybe bring her back when she’s older”. She made the comment in between movements of Mozart’s Sonata in G.

A report in The Guardian stated: “Exasperated by an avalanche of coughing between movements, Chung calmly upbraided some parents for bringing along a young child who dared to cough too... I can’t remember the first half of a concert ever feeling this tense.”

The Times said that the atmosphere of the performance went from “tetchy” to “toxic”.

One audience member took to the comments section on The Guardian to defend Chung, saying: “the 'avalanche of adult coughing' referred to was almost comically exaggerated. I would say rude – if not deliberate then oblivious to the occasion… In the circumstances, I would say her rebuke to the parents of the young kid, was effectively aimed at the grown-ups in the hall.”

Another commenter, who said they were present at the concert, wrote: “Our party was split down the middle by her behaviour, and one of my friends described her as "a nightmare". But I felt for her enormously. Can we all just remember that even a musical legend is also a human being?”

Chung was one of the biggest names in classical music in the 1970s and 80s and has made over 20 recordings. But since retiring because of her injury in 2005 she hasn’t performed on the concert stage.

The concert, which took place at the Royal Festival Hall in London included music by Mozart, Prokofiev, JS Bach and Franck and was subtitled ‘The Legend Returns’.

Photo: Martin Kendrick ICA Films

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