Emerging from Australia as a child prodigy in the late '90s, Ray Chen is a violinist noted for his bright, vital playing style.
He won both the Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition and the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in the late 2000s before turning 21. Chen went on record concertos by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Bruch, and Mendelssohn for such labels as Sony Classical and Decca in the 2010s. He plays the 1715 "Joachim" Stradivarius.
Born in Taiwan in 1989 and raised in Australia, Chen showed an unusual aptitude for the violin as a young child; he made his solo orchestra debut with the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of eight. Just before he turned nine, he performed at the opening celebration concert for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. Chen enrolled at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia when he was 15 years old, and at 19, he took first prize at the 2008 Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition in Cardiff, Wales. That same year, he made his Russian debut in St. Petersburg with Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto alongside the Mariinsky Orchestra. In 2009, he won the Queen Elisabeth Music Competition.
Chen signed a recording contract with Sony Classical in 2010, and the label released his first album, Virtuoso, in early 2011. Featuring accompaniment by pianist Noreen Polera, it included works by Bach, Franck, Tartini, and Wieniawski. Chen then became the youngest artist in its history to perform in a Nobel Prize Concert when he appeared on the 2012 program. That year, he also released Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos, following it in 2014 with Mozart: Violin Concertos & Sonata, recorded with Christoph Eschenbach and the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival Orchestra.
After making the move to Decca in 2017, Chen released his fourth album, 2018's The Golden Age. It included Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 (with the London Philharmonic Orchestra) along with a variety of shorter classical and popular pieces, including a version of "Summertime" from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, and his take on the traditional tune "Waltzing Matilda."