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World-Famous Violinist Kyung Wha Chung Yells at Coughing Child During Performance

By Jaime Prisco j.prisco@classicalite.com on Dec 04, 2014 05:25 PM EST

World-renowned violinist Kyung Wha Chung sent audience members into an awkward frenzy after publicly berating the parents of a coughing child during her performance at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

Chung, from South Korea, is hailed as a violin prodigy but has been retired for some time, partly due to a finger injury. This show was her first London performance in 12 years.

But during this show, the 66-year-old violinist lashed out at a child who was coughing during her performance of Mozart’s Sonata in G.

“Maybe bring her back when she’s older,” she rebuked to the child’s parents.

Then, audience members say, she continued looking back in the general direction of the coughing child for the next 20 minutes.

Anna Picard, music critic for The Times, said the atmosphere in the hall had already been tense, such was the anticipation surrounding the violinist's comeback.

"With one shrivelling put-down, a tetchy atmosphere turned toxic," she wrote in her review.

There wasn't anymore coughing than you might normally expect from a Royal Festival Hall audience in December, but what was remarkable was the number of children in the audience: maybe 50 in total. Young prodigies, no doubt.

Fellow string player Elizabeth Stahlmann noted that there were "plenty of people coughing" during the performance and it was "not cool to pick on a child."

Coughing is a particular problem for classical performers in the winter months. An academic paper released in 2013 even suggested that people appear to cough more in concerts than they do in normal life.

The Royal Festival Hall said it had not received a complaint from the child's family after the performance.

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TagsWorld Famous, Violinist, Kyung Wha Chung, Royal Festival Hall, London, Mozart

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