The Taiwanese Australian violinist, Ray Chen, was born in Taiwan and raised in Australia. He began violin studies at the age of 4, and within 5 years he successfully completed all 10 levels set by the Suzuki Music Education in Queensland, Australia. Aged 8, he was invited to play solo with the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra. In the year 2002, aged 13, he won first prize in the Australian Youth Concerto Competition, and in the following year was awarded the Australian Music Examinations Board’s Sydney May Memorial Scholarship for being the youngest and most talented musician. Ray won third prize in the Junior Section of the 2004 International Yehudi Menuhin Competition and First prize in the 2005 Australia National Kendall Violin Competition. Ray Chen has given many public performances throughout Australia and has taken many master-classes with notable artists including Midori, Cho-Liang Lin, Maxim Vengerov, Antje Weithaas, and Rudolf Koelman. In the summer of 2006, he attended Encore School for Strings, studying under David Cerone. He was accepted to the Curtis Institute of Music at the age of 15, where he continues to work with Aaron Rosand on expanding his repertoire. He was the first prize winner at the Yehudi Menuhin Competition in 2008, and at the Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competition in Brussels, Belgium in 2009. He was the latter Competition's youngest participant
The winning brought Ray Chen numerous concert engagements, a recording, and a three-year loan of the "Huggins" Stradivarius from the Nippon Music Foundation. As Grand Prize Winner, he was immediately launched on a concert tour, performing with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic (DeFilharmonie) under Jaap van Zweden and Aldert Vermeulen, the National Orchestra of Belgium under Rumon Gamba, and the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra under Emmanuel Krivine, as well as in recitals throughout Belgium. He is currently on the roster of CAMI Music, and in March 2010 signed an exclusive, multi-disc contract with Sony Classical.
Ray Chen is among the most compelling young violinists today. Although his repertoire takes in a broad range of works by J.S. Bach, Tartini, L.v. Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Paganini, Franck, Wieniawski, Béla Bartók, Prokofiev, Samuel Barber, and many others, he is still has been working with Rosand to expand his already vast repertory. His recent performances, including debut recitals at Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and the Merkin Hall in New York, have enraptured both the audiences and the critics. "Ray Chen can do pretty much anything he wants on the violin" (Anne Midgette, The Washington Post). "His whole performance was out of this world." (Elise Simoens, De Standaard).
Ray Chen's performance of J.S. Bach's Double Violin Concerto (BWV 1043) became the much-discussed highlight of the 2009 Aspen Music Festival. Maxim Vengerov, who met Chen while serving on the jury of the Menuhin Competition, immediately engaged him to perform with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra in St. Petersburg as well as at the opening concert of the next Menuhin Competition in April 2010 in Oslo. "I have had the pleasure of knowing Ray Chen since his triumph at the Yehudi Menuhin Competition", says Maxim Vengerov. "Ray has proven himself to be a very pure musician with great qualities as a beautiful youthful tone, vitality and lightness. He has all the skills of a truly musical interpreter."
Ray Chen's upcoming engagements include a performance with the Taipei Symphony at this year's World Expo in Shanghai, a North American orchestral debut with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra as well as concerts with the Orchestre National de Lille, Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and Sydney Symphony Orchestra. His festival engagements include Verbier, Ravinia, Schleswig-Holstein and Dresdner Festspiele. He will also return to Rostropovich Festival in Moscow in 2012 to participate in the celebration of Maestro’s 85th anniversary. Ray is looking forward to his upcoming debuts with the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala, Münchner Philharmoniker, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and National Orchestra of Spain, among others.
Ray Chen’s premiere album “Virtuoso”, released worldwide on Sony Classical in January 2011, received glowing reviews from a range of major publications including The Times and Chicago Tribune, which named it the “CD of the week”. Following the success of this recording, Ray Chen was profiled by The Strad and Gramophone magazines as “the one to watch”. His 2011 recital tour featuring Virtuoso repertoire will bring him to Tokyo, Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, Zürich, and Dresden. He is currently working on his next CD with Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. This will be his first orchestral recording; the release is planned for January 2012. “The musicianship of Ray Chen is just as exciting as that of Gustavo Dudamel. He seems to have it all: instantly recognizable tone, charismatic personality and musical authority unusual for his age. He is at the beginning of a major career and it is a privilege to build it with him,” says Bogdan Roscic, President of Sony Classical.
Ray Chen plays the "Huggins" Stradivarius, on loan from The Nippon Music Foundation, and the 1721 Stradivarius known as "The Macmillan", provided as part of the award for winning the 2008-2009 Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York. He has a little sister called Jennifer Chen who currently plays the flute and violin.