Tuesday, December 09, 2014

That Kyung Wha Chung concert

You'll have heard all the rumpus about a great violinist allegedly telling off the family of a coughing child during that comeback recital at the Royal Festival Hall last week. The whole thing is so ridiculous on so many levels that it's seemed best to ignore it. But I hope the following may shed a little more light on the matter, since there's been "outrage" (fake outrage = clickbait) about her action and speculation that it might have put a child off music for life, etc etc.

A musician friend of mine tells me that he was sitting a couple of rows behind the family. He is somewhat conversant with South Korea. He thinks the family was probably Korean and remarked that it is a culture in which elders are respected and speak their minds very directly - rather than habitually talking in riddles and mincing their words as we tend to in the middle England that frequents high culture ("I say, er, please, would you mind terribly if..."). We do forget that not everyone in the world follows our own social mores - and London is an extremely international place.

He added that a) the child looked to be only about 4 years old, and b) the family didn't leave, contrary to rumour, but stayed where they were and seemed to enjoy the rest of the concert without any further trouble.

The online and media bullying of great musicians for the slightest extra-musical flip is quite common these days, especially in this country - and it has got to stop, because all it does is put them off coming back here. We're the losers in the end.

Here is a clip (if somewhat cut about) of the wonderful Chung in the Bach Chaconne. This is why we want her here, and playing, and playing like this.

UPDATE, 9/15pm: KYUNG WHA CHUNG RESPONDS AND EXPLAINS - and does so with admirable sense and sensibility. (The Guardian)