One of the foremost violinists of our generation, Ray Chen is no ordinary violinist. Born in Taiwan and raised in Brisbane, he moved to the USA at 15 to pursue intensive violin studies at the Curtis Institute of Music. Since then, his appearances as a soloist with great orchestras around the world have carved his niche as a heart-stopping virtuoso. Ray Chen returns to Australia to tour nationally for Musica Viva with pianist Julien Quentin in two programs of violin masterworks and a world premiere by Matthew Hindson AM.
With millions of social media followers, a partnership with Giorgio Armani and a spot in the 2017 Forbes list of 30 most influential Asians under 30, his extraordinary talents take him well beyond the bounds of classical music.
Named ‘one to watch’ by The Strad and Gramophone magazines, the 29-year-old burst onto the global scene a decade ago, winning the Yehudi Menuhin Competition in 2008 and the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2009. Other standouts in a daunting list of achievements include performances at France’s Bastille Day (live to 800,000 people), the Nobel Prize Concert in Stockholm, the BBC Proms and the Japan Winter Olympics. He plays the 1715 ‘Joachim’ Stradivarius violin on loan from the Nippon Music Foundation – an instrument once owned by the famed Hungarian violinist, Joseph Joachim.
Ray has just released his first Decca album – The Golden Age, a “tip of the hat to the era of my favourite violinists; Oistrakh, Heifetz, Kreisler, Milstein – you name it” he says.
On his return to Australia, he’s joined by his regular playing partner, acclaimed French pianist Julien Quentin. The two musicians met in 2011 – “relatively early” in the young violinist’s career – in a castle in Germany, during a seven-day residency featuring different soloists.
The duo will perform two programs on this tour – the first showcasing works by Beethoven, Grieg, Falla, Monti, and a world premiere by Australia’s own Matthew Hindson AM; the second programme pairs the Hindson with favourites by Vitali, Franck, Ysaÿe and Ravel.
Ray has put much thought into the Hindson work: “It’s called ‘Dark Matter’ which alludes to the term used in astrophysics to describe the matter that makes up the majority of the universe,” he explains. “It’s everywhere and dates back to the Big Bang and yet here we are 13 billion years later (give or take a few) trying to see it.”
“There is also a second meaning to the piece which is that the dark matter of the universe could be perceived as a metaphor for our existence,” he continues. “We as human beings are on this planet for such a relatively short amount of time, what is the point? It’s basically the ‘What is the meaning of life?’ question we ask ourselves. Matthew points out that perhaps our lasting legacy is the things we can’t see ourselves – rather it’s the memories others hold of us. It’s an honor to present such a meaningful and thoughtful piece. I hope audiences will enjoy it!”
Ray will also mentor talented students at masterclasses in Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, while Julien will give masterclasses in Newcastle and Melbourne. Members of the public are welcome to attend.
PROGRAM ONE: Sydney Weekend: BEETHOVEN Violin Sonata no 1 in D major, op 12 no 1/ GRIEG Violin Sonata no 2 in G major, op 13/
HINDSON Violin Sonata no 1 ‘Dark Matter’*/ FALLA arr Kochanski Suite populaire espagnole/ MONTI Czardas
PROGRAM TWO: Sydney Weekday: VITALI Chaconne for violin and continuo in G minor/ FRANCK Sonata in A major/ YSAŸE Sonata for solo violin in D minor, op 27 no 3/ HINDSON Violin Sonata no 1 ‘Dark Matter’*/ RAVEL Tzigane