Ray Chen (born 6 March 1989) is a Taiwanese-Australian violinist. He was the first prize winner in the 2008 International Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition and the 2009 Queen Elisabeth Music Competition and now records on the Sony Masterworks label.
Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Chen began learning violin at the age of four. Within five years he completed all 10 levels of the Suzuki Music Education (Suzuki method) in Brisbane, Australia. Chen was invited to play solo with the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of eight. He was also invited to perform at the opening celebration concert of the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
Chen was chosen as Australia's 4MBS's "Young Space Musician of the Year" in 1999. He was awarded by the Sydney May Memorial Scholarship of the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) for being the youngest and most talented musician. Chen was awarded his Licentiate Diploma of Music with distinction by the AMEB at age 11. At age 13, he won first prize in the Australian National Youth Concerto Competition (NYCC), and in 2005 won first prize in the 2005 Australia National Kendall Violin Competition. Professor Goetz Richter, chair of the String Unit at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music has described Chen as "one of the most talented and accomplished young violinists to have emerged from Australia." His violin teachers have included Kerry Smith and Professor Peter Zhang (Sydney Conservatorium). Chen graduated with a bachelor of music degree in violin performance under Aaron Rosand at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
In the summers of 2006 and 2007, Chen attended the Encore School for Strings, studying under David Cerone at the Cleveland Institute of Music. In 2008 he attended the Aspen Music Festival on a full tuition fellowship, studying with Cho-Liang Lin (Juilliard School) and Paul Kantor (Cleveland Institute of Music).
In April 2008 Chen won the senior division first prize of the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinists in Cardiff, Wales. (In 2004 he had won jointly the third prize of the junior division in that competition.) Chen then came to the attention of Maxim Vengerov, who served on the competition jury, and was engaged for performances including debuts with the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra in St. Petersburg and at the International Rostropovich Festival with the Azerbaijan State Symphony Orchestra in Baku, under the baton of Vengerov.
Following his success at the Menuhin Competition, Chen won the first prize of the 2009 Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Brussels, Belgium, bringing him numerous concert engagements, a recording, and a three-year loan of the "Huggins" Stradivarius from the Nippon Music Foundation. He was the competition's youngest participant. As Grand Prize winner, he was immediately launched on a concert tour, performing with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic (DeFilharmonie) under Jaap van Zweden and Aldert Vermeulen, the National Orchestra of Belgium under Rumon Gamba, and the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra under Emmanuel Krivine, as well as in recitals throughout Belgium.
Chen won the Newcomer Award in the 2011 Echo Klassik Awards. He was invited to perform at the annual Nobel Prize Concert in 2012, playing Max Bruch's Violin Concerto in G minor with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.
In April 2016, he was the youngest juror ever of the Yehudi Menuhin International Competition for Young Violinists in London, with Pamela Frank, Joji Hattori, Martin Engstroem, Ning Feng, Julia Fischer, Dong-Suk Kang, Tasmin Little and Jeremy Menuhin.
He plays the 1715 "Joachim" Stradivarius.