London: Renowned violinist Kyung-Wha Chung has publicly berated the parents of a coughing child during her first performance here in 12 years, shocking the audience and music critics.
The 66-year-old South Korean prodigy had been absent from the London stage for 12 years, partly due to a finger injury.
She took offence at a child coughing during her performance of Mozart's Sonata In G at the Royal Festival Hall here on Tuesday. "Maybe bring her back when she's older," she scolded the parents from the stage.
The Royal Festival Hall said it had not received a complaint from the child's family after the performance.
"At this time of the year in particular, coughing isn't uncommon at events at any venue," it said in a statement to the BBC.
"We don't discourage parents or carers who wish to bring young people to an evening event and we do, where possible, check that they are aware of the nature of the event.
"We are aware that Kyung Wha Chung is also a keen supporter of young people experiencing classical music," it said.
Meanwhile, 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.
British violinist Thomas Gould was also in the audience, and tweeted: "Difficult to be charmed by Kyung-Wha Chung's Mozart after her curious outburst at parents of a coughing child.
"But the raised temperatures added an extra belligerence to her taut Prokofiev," he added.
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".
Kyung-Wha Chung's concert was laden with expectation.
Lifesize posters of her had even appeared around London declaring "The Legend Returns".
She became an international star in 1970 after a performance with the London Symphony Orchestra, playing the
But her career was cut short when she lost the use of her left index finger in 2005.