Violinist Ray Chen will join 88 of Australian Youth Orchestra’s finest for AYO in concert with Simone Young this July. The very busy Chen generously offered up some of his time to answer a few of our questions in the lead-up to the concert. Get to know our soloist, in his own words.
Travelling the world in a few words…
Fun. Inspiring. Delicious.
Where do you feel most inspired?
I feel like my creativity is at its height when I’m either o the stage or on the plane.
Australia vs. New York?
Australia was a wonderful place for me to grow up in the first sixteen years of my life and be a normal, well-balanced person. Life there is beautiful, simple, and happy. New York is the place that keeps you hungry and you shoot for higher goals than you thought were previously attainable. However, I see my life as an arc, or like a musical phrase, and eventually I see myself coming back to Australia to enjoy the things I had left behind as a teenager.
What are you three carry-on essentials when travelling?
Noise cancelling headphones. MacBook Air. Inflatable neck-rest.
Strangest venue you’ve performed in?
From traditional concert halls to underground clubs, busking on the street, a variety of amphitheatres, there’s really no place where I have felt weird or uncomfortable as of yet!
You’re throwing a dinner party – three ultimate dinner guests (dead or alive)?
Emma Stone – because she’s super funny and cute but looks like she needs feeding.
Antonio Stradivarius – to try to exchange dessert for violin making secrets.
Mozart – because young Wolfgang seems like he could be a lot of fun at a dinner party compared to all the other composers who seem like they’re either way too serious about themselves or clinically depressed.
Any pre- or post-show rituals?
Pre-show rituals include: eating a full meal, drinking hot tea, doing a front zipper check, and a stage door countdown (I hold out my hand and do a “5…4…3…2…1…” countdown and then whip out the double pistols and make a weird noise with my mouth that is reminiscent of a five-year-old shooting an imaginary gun). The last bit is very important to ensure a high quality performance.
Post-show ritual: eating another full meal.
Advice to young musicians?
Developing a good sense of empathy will get you far in life. In a musical sense it will enable you to correctly assess what the composer intended and what his attitude and personality was like. And in everyday situations to be able to correctly assess and anticipate another person’s intentions can lead you to becoming a thoughtful and successful human being.