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Wednesday, 22 August, 2001, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Pianist leaves stage over phone din
Pianist Andras Schiff
Andras Schiff: Wanted quiet before resuming his recital
World-renowned pianist Andras Schiff stormed out of his performance at the Edinburgh Festival until the ringing from mobile phones and other distractions had stopped.

The Hungarian virtuoso was in the middle of his performance when the noise from phones, watches and the audience coughing became too much.


I have heard primary school children being quieter

Katie Grant, the Scotsman

He stormed off the stage at the Usher Hall in Edingburgh, telling the audience they needed a break in which to stop their wheezing.

He came back after taking a few minutes backstage to recompose himself, a festival spokesman confirmed.

Festival reviewer Katie Grant from the Scotsman newspaper was at the concert and witnessed the dramatics.

"It was Fantasia in C Minor with mobile phone, beeping watches and coughing and sneezing accompaniment.

'Frustrated'

"I have heard primary school children being quieter,'' she wrote.

"We might as well have stayed home or gone to the zoo.''

A festival spokesman confirmed Sunday's incident but said Mr Schiff had taken the break only to cool off.

"He got a bit frustrated because two people forgot to turn off their mobile phones," she said, calling Mr Schiff's reaction "perfectly justified".

"He left the stage for a few minutes between movements to compose himself again," she added.

Downpour

The spokeswoman said the excessive coughing and sneezing was probably due to the bad weather in Scotland that evening.

A heavy downpour just before the performance left many of the audience drenched, she added.

Mobile phone use can irritate in other arenas - namely the cinema.

Trevor Harris, a picture-house owner from Haverfordwest, in Wales, installed a security camera in the foyer to stop people bringing mobile phones into his cinema.

And the Warner chain says that annoyance at "inconsiderate" use of mobiles during films formed the largest number of complaints from customers during Easter period this year.

This year's Edinburgh Festival has been heralded as the best yet with more than one million visitors expected by the end of August.

See also:

17 Jul 01 | Health
'Ban mobiles when driving'
07 Jun 01 | UK
No more silent movies
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