Author: Henry Michaels

A Violin Superstar

A Curtis Institute of Music education. First-place wins in some of the most prestigious competitions in classical music. An ambassador for SONY Electronics. 250,000 followers on YouTube.

This eclectic and unmistakably 21st-century resume belongs to Ray Chen, the virtuoso violinist who has charted a distinctive path to success and “[redefined] what it means to be a classical musician” in today’s world. Chen’s classical music bona fides alone would put him in elite company. Born in Taiwan and raised in Australia, Chen won first prize in the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinists in 2008, a feat which he followed up by winning first prize in the Queen Elisabeth Competition the following year. He was a mere 20 years old at the time. Since then, he’s released multiple highly acclaimed albums, toured the globe as a soloist and performed with, among others, the London, Los Angeles and New York philharmonics.

But what sets Ray Chen apart from many of his classical music contemporaries is the way that he has embraced the opportunities presented by an ever-connected, social media-obsessed world. His YouTube channel features music, education and more than a dash of great comedic timing, all with the kind of slick, eye-catching production one would expect from the popular video-sharing platform. He serves as a brand ambassador for SONY Electronics and has consulted for and collaborated with some of the best-known companies in the video game industry. Then there’s Tonic, an app co-founded by Chen that allows musicians to practice and encourage others in real-time.

In a classical music industry marked by frequent discussions about how to reach new patrons, Chen is one of the finest examples of an artist doing just that. Whether in sold-out concerts around the world or through YouTube and other media, he’s introducing classical music to a whole new audience.

Like Paganini, Liszt and other renowned virtuosos, Chen is one of those once-in-a-blue-moon classical musicians who has reached true superstar status. And like those virtuosos of ages past, it’s Chen’s artistry, his infectious personality and his stage presence that have combined to set him apart.

Chen’s glittering artistry will take center stage at Macky Auditorium on March 21, 2024. Alongside renowned pianist Julio Elizalde—himself a past winner (with the New Trio) of both the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and the Coleman Chamber Competition—this eclectic concert will feature music ranging from J.S. Bach to Chick Corea.

Ray Chen and Julio Elizalde perform at Macky Auditorium on the Artist Series on March 21, 2024.