Ray Chen: "You can hear Malta in Alexey Shor’s music..."
On 23 November, the Moscow International House of Music will be hosting the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra as part of the MPO Moscow Tour – A Union of Cultures project. Violinist Ray Chen, one of the most prominent young musicians of our time, First Prize winner of the Yehudi Menuhin (2008) and Queen Elizabeth (2009) competitions, will be performing.
Born in Taiwan and raised in Australia, Ray Chen was accepted by the Curtis Institute of Music at the age of 15 and studied with Aaron Rosand. As winner of the New York International Young Concert Artists competition (2008–2009), the musician was authorised to play a 1721 Stradivarius violin The MacMillan on loan.
The concert at the Moscow International House of Music will start with the Festival Overture for symphony orchestra by the Maltese composer Christopher Muscat. Then, Ray Chen will perform the work Phantasms by contemporary American-Maltese composer Alexey Shor. The subsequent performances will include the famous concert piece by French composer Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor.
In 2018, Ray Chen took part in the Malta International Music Festival, where he performed a work by contemporary American-Maltese composer Alexey Shor. According to the violinist, Shor’s music is inspired by life on the Mediterranean and the bounties of the sea.
“You can hear everyday life of the island encoded in his music, something intimate, authentic and, at times, you can imagine how the storm is raging on the seashore”, said Ray Chen.
5 Quotes by Ray Chen
“Perhaps for a short time, in the late 90s, it made sense to go on stage in everyday clothes but everything has changed since then. And this means that, as an industry, classical music should take a closer look at how young people behave. We have begun to pay much more attention to image so I think we need to organise concerts in a format that would be interesting to go to”.
“The violin I play used to belong to the Hungarian virtuoso Joseph Joachim, who was one of the “Godfathers of the violin” and was on friendly terms with Brahms, Bruch and Schumann. All three composers dedicated their violin concertos to him. Sometimes, I like to joke that all the notes are already there, you just need to convince the violin to open them up to the listener”.
“To play a Stradivarius violin means to feel a deeper connection with the composers who wrote works for it. We are talking about thousands of hours of music that have already been associated with this instrument. You feel more confident, and this adds magic to the music. But the most important thing, probably, is sensing history and tradition – something that best characterises a classical musician”.
“The role of conductor is similar to that of a storyteller crafting the environment or world in which the main character (the concerto soloist) lives. Each performance is like a re-telling of King Arthur or Hamlet, where the orchestra can either help or hinder the hero. A perfect conductor knows the minds of the 60+ members of the orchestra and can anticipate the mind of the soloist, too, creating the perfect path organically and without force.
“There is something magical about seeing your favourite artist perform magic on stage, a few metres away from you. No studio recording, of course, can convey such magic. This is similar to the way actors appear in films: with perfect hairstyles, in perfectly ironed shirts – and then you see them in everyday life, in a store or a restaurant. They are, of course, the same as everyone else but… no, there is something enigmatic, mysterious about them”.