The Korea Herald


'Every performance becomes shared journey of musical exploration': Ray Chen

[Herald Interview] The Taiwanese-Australian violinist is set to perform twice at Lotte Concert Hall's Classic Revolution 2023 in August

By Park Ga-young

Published : July 26, 2023 - 17:43

    • Link copied

Violinist Ray Chen (John Mac) Violinist Ray Chen (John Mac)

Ray Chen, a Taiwanese Australian violinist, wears many hats. In addition to performing with top orchestras around the world and bringing life to classical music, Chen, the winner of the 2009 Queen Elisabeth Competition, is also a music educator and music director for video games.

Driving the 34-year-old violinist in all these activities is his desire to share the magic of music with others. “Whether it's on stage, in a practice app, or a video online, each platform allows me to reach out, connect, and hopefully, inspire others with music. It's not just about performing; it's about fostering a dialogue, a shared experience, and ultimately, creating a community bound by the love for music,” the violinist said in an email interview this week.

The violinist, who will give two performances as part of Lotte Concert Hall’s summer music festival, Classical Revolution 2023, said he is looking forward to performing in front of the Korean audience, who he said “embodies the raw emotional response.”

“The (Korean) audiences break the mold in the best possible way,” he explained, adding that their reactions are lively, spontaneous and unfiltered, akin to the atmosphere at a rock concert.

He said their understanding and appreciation for the music allow a deeper musical connection.

“The combination of profound musical understanding and uninhibited expressiveness makes for a truly dynamic concert environment. It's both humbling and invigorating to play for an audience that appreciates the intricacies of the music while simultaneously embodying the raw emotional response it evokes,” he said.

On Aug. 11, Chen will perform Brahms Violin Concerto with the Seoul Symphony Orchestra led by emerging conductor Andreas Ottensamer, artistic director of the Classical Revolution 2023.

In the chamber music concert on Aug. 15, he will perform with violinist Cho Jin-joo and pianist William Youn to present Brahms Clarinet Quintet and Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 7.

“Through these performances, I hope to share with the Korean audiences Brahms' intricate emotional palette and explore together his deep understanding of human emotions,” the violinist noted.

Violinist Ray Chen (John Mac) Violinist Ray Chen (John Mac)

In addition to the concerts, Chen, who has channeled his passion for music education into virtual masterclasses, the "Play with Ray" competition and, most recently, music learning app Tonic, said he is most excited about meeting future musicians at a masterclass.

Through the masterclass he said he hopes to spark inspiration and nurture a lifelong love for music.

Why does he want to encourage young children to learn music? It is “a deeply rewarding journey, whether the pursuit of music leads to a professional career or not.”

“The discipline, the capacity for expression, the understanding of beauty and structure that you gain from studying music -- these are gifts that you'll carry with you throughout your life,” he said, asked to give advice to young musicians.