MEET THE PROS | VC 'Artist' Ray Chen - 'My Very Bizarre Backstage Confession'


VC 'Young Artist', Australian violinist Ray Chen discusses his rather bizarre backstage concert ritual - involving flies, countdowns and pistols.

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"I would love to share with you guys what goes on with me backstage before I walk onto a concert.

So here's what I do:

First, and most importantly, a fly check!

Secondly, I do a quick tune as I don't like to tune on stage - I feel it breaks the mood.

And third and finally, I hold out my hand to the person who is about to open the door and I say 'Stop!'  I then do a countdown '5, 4, 3, 2, 1' - and then I whip out my pistols to make everyone laugh.

The countdown is very important for me, as psychologically it provides me with a small piece of control. I'm about to enter a situation onstage where I'll meet a million obstacles and face a million things that could go wrong and that are entirely out of my control. But in that one moment, thanks to the countdown, I can at least feel like I'm in control of something.

And this dumb pistol thing - well that's just to make people laugh and smile … I've been doing it for years! Normally the doorman just cracks up laughing, and the stage guys laugh and it makes me laugh too - so I can walk on stage with a smile, feeling fearless and completely ready to play!"


At just 24, Ray Chen is widely regarded as one of the new generation's brightest young string virtuosi | A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with respected pedagogue Aaron Rosand, Ray is a former Grand Prize winner at the Young Concert Artists International Auditions - and the Yehudi Menuhin and Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competitions | His recent debuts include coveted solo engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Orchestra, Orchestra National de France and the London Philharmonic | He currently performs on the 1702 'Lord Newlands' Stradivarius – on generous loan from the Nippon Music Foundation |