We’ve received distressing reports from the long-awaited London comeback recital of the Korean violinist Kyung-Wha Chung.
The Royal Festival Hall was sold out and there was high anticipation. Kyung-wha opened with a Mozart sonata.
At the first movement break, everyone in the Royal festival – this is London in December – burst out coughing.
The soloist was not pleased. She turned on a child, sitting about ten rows back to the left of the stage and said to her parents: ‘don’t you think you should bring her when she’s a bit older?’
The remark cast a pall on the rest of the concert. An audience member told us they felt she was picking on the child and continued staring at her for the rest of the first half. One said: ‘I’ve never heard a Mozart sonata take so long.’
The incident recalls another disruption, six weeks ago, when the conductor Michael Tilson Thomas asked the mother of a child to remove her from the front rows.
Such conduct is, in our view, unacceptable.
A performer should not respond to audience disruption, accidental or otherwise. A performer needs to be ‘in the zone’, in a separate space, to maintain an illusion of inspiration that is unaffected by the mundane. Interventions from the stage can wreck a potentially historic concert.
UPDATE: First review here.
2nd UPDATE: Erica Jeal in the Guardian here.
3rd UPDATE: The damage here.