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June 2, 2009

Ray Chen, student of the great Aaron Rosand, takes first prize at Queen Elisabeth Violin Competition

Ray Chen, a 20-year-old Australian, won the Queen Elisabeth Competition, one of the violin world's highest honors, in Belgium over the weekend.

Competition victories don't necessarily translate into big careers, but, judging by the filmed highlights of Chen's performances (I've included some here), I'd say he's got a good shot at making a mark. His playing reveals considerable finesse, personality, elegance. And he certainly has a solid musical pedigree, if you will, for he's a student of Aaron Rosand at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia.

Some of us consider Rosand to be ... 

one of the greatest (and most underrated) violinists of the past 50 years, so the news that one of his students triumphed at this major contest is most welcome. In a way, it validates Rosand's artistry at the same time that it confirms Chen's.

Here's a stylistically diverse sampling of Chen's competition-winning performances in Brussels:


Posted by Tim Smith at 10:42 AM | | Comments (0)

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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