By Jae-Ha Kim
January 25, 2011
Born in Taiwan, raised in Australia and currently residing in the United States, classical violinist Ray Chen doesn’t spend much time in Philadelphia these days. “I really live out of a suitcase,” says the 21-year-old musician, whose debut CD “Virtuoso” hits stores February 1. “But I love seeing the world and traveling so I’m not complaining. I’m building up lots of frequent flyer miles so it’s a win-win situation for me.”
A 2010 graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Chen currently is touring to promote his album. For current concert dates, check his website at www.raychenviolin.com.
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. My family lives in Australia, which I love visiting. I love going to nice, hot places. We just got back from a cruise and enjoyed some family time in the Virgin Islands and spent some time in Coco Cay, Bahamas, Royal Caribbean cruise line’s private island in the Bahamas. The cruise was really fun and had all kinds of amazing activities on board. There was a rock-climbing wall and an ice-skating rink and lots of good food to eat.
Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. When I’m in Australia, I just head to the beach ‘cause that’s one of my favorite things to do. The Gold Coast is 40 minutes away from my house there. That’s a perfect weekend getaway. Here in Philly, I don’t have a car, so sometimes it’s just as easy to fly. I just get on a plane and go to New York or anywhere, really. I like traveling. I once went to Germany for three days, came back and then went back there for a few more days. My girlfriend lives in Pittsburgh, so I visit her a lot, too.
Q. What are your favorite hotels?
A. I was just at this amazing hotel in Germany called Schloss Elmau. It was snowy all around and the hotel is a spa resort. So it’s pretty cool to be outside in a hot tub when it’s snowing. It’s the German thing to do that … and then dive into the snow butt naked! When in Rome…
Q. What are your favorite restaurants?
A. I just had Korean food last night at this great place in Philly called Miga. I love their galbi (ribs) and jap chae (rice noodles). They also have really good seafood pajun (pancake). I’m a big fan of all kinds of cuisine. I love Brazilian steakhouses. Fogo de Chao is one of my favorites. It’s a chain that started in Brazil and I saw one there when I was in Sao Paulo, but I’ve only eaten at the U.S. restaurants.
There’s another place I really like in Philly’s Chinatown called Jade, which to me is better and more authentic than Shiao Lan Kung, which is the more popular restaurant. But my favorite restaurant is a place that’s not open to the public. It’s at the top of the Sony building in New York and you can only get in if you’re with someone very high up at Sony. I always try to get the president of classical music to take me there. They have this little room where a chef makes sushi and grills eel for the two of us while four or five servers wait on us. I always ask if they have a frequent diner card to get there, but obviously the answer is no! It’s a total fantasy but I would love to eat there every day if I could. It’s that good.
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. Laptop, ‘cause I have to be connected to the Internet. I feel like my life support is gone if I’m not connected. My iPhone matters a little too much to me, apparently, but it contains my schedule and allows me to stay in touch in general. This might sound a little weird, but I always bring earplugs. I sleep on planes and in hotel rooms with them in my ears and get a good night’s sleep. I bring my Noise Canceling Headphones by Bose.
Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. Shanghai is cool. I was born in Taipei and love visiting — the food is the best there! I also love Berlin, which is a very hip city. I also like my hometown of Brisbane. And I love New York ‘cause it’s New York.
Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. South Africa. And it’s random, but I would love to go to the North Pole.
Q. What is your best vacation memory?
A. I’m a big cruise person and I went with my family about two years ago on a really great trip. We visited so many places in Europe, rode a camel in the Sahara Desert, visited all these landmarks in Greece. That was quite a vacation.
© 2011 JAE-HA KIM
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
Hey all, Ray’s record label has provided me with a CD to giveaway. For more details, click HERE. Contest ends on Feb. 14, 2011. Good luck!