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The five places that made me: Ray Chen, virtuoso violinist

Ray Chen: Discovered his affinity with violin aged 8. Photo: SuppliedJAPAN
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I was eight years old when I first realised I wanted to become a violinist for the rest of my life. I was invited to play at the opening ceremony of the 1998 Winter Olympics which were held in Nagano, Japan. It was everything a boy could dream of: an exciting new place to explore, new friends to meet, and amazing food to try. I’m still in touch with the people I met back then, and every year when I go back to perform we get together and catch up. Violin had been a fun hobby up until that point, but then this event made me realise that this little wooden instrument could give me amazing experiences. All I had to do was spend time with it every day.  UNITED STATES

The move from Australia to anywhere is usually a long one, both in distance and time. We are just so far from the rest of the world, that even with modern-day travel it still takes almost 24 hours to get from Europe or the US to Australia. My move to the United States at the age of 16 was the beginning of a new chapter of my life, one that would be filled with obstacles and challenges that were not always enjoyable, but moulded me into the person I am today. Not to mention a constant pressure to prove to everyone that I wouldn’t have to go back home with my tail between my legs. America is a place where people judge you not based on your age or experience, but rather your ability and talent. For me, this was a place that could make my dreams into a reality.  BELGIUM

A place that most people don’t give much thought to except when it comes to beer and chocolate, but in the world of classical music it is where the biggest international violin competition is held every four years. The Queen Elisabeth Violin Competition is the equivalent of the Olympics for violin. I spent a whole month at the competition, plus another month after, performing concert tours in the country, yet managed to learn zero French. This was the place that launched me into the international concert stage – the fast track so to speak, and it will always have a special place in my heart. THE CARIBBEAN

If there’s one thing I love more than travelling and performing, it is going on cruises. I absolutely love the ocean, and there’s no better way for me to relax than spending a week on a boat, waking up each morning in a different exotic place. They can be also such good value – sometimes in the off-peak season you can get a full week for only $600 a person, and that includes all non-alcoholic drinks and meals, room, and on-board entertainment and facilities. You couldn’t even get a hotel for that price.    VENEZUELA

Venezuela. The birthplace of the El Sistema music program which was conceived to keep kids off the streets and away from drugs and violence. It has grown now to more than 700,000 kids playing musical instruments and has spread across the world and inspired similar spin-off programs. I visited last October for the first time and it completely blew my mind to meet so many young people who loved classical music so much. It is their sanctuary, a place to get away from the daily troubles of life. Venezuela has many problems with their economy and general safety. Kidnappings happen daily. Yet among all these troubles something beautiful was created which inspired the rest of the world.

Ray Chen plays Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra  in Hamer Hall on March 10, 11 and 12 at 8pm. Tickets: (03) 9929 9600. See mso南京夜网419论坛.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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