Superstar violinist Ray Chen joins Sir Andrew Davis in an epic musical journey across Europe

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The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra will be climbing great heights when it performs the program An Alpine Symphony this March, conducted by Chief Conductor Sir Andrew Davis and featuring superstar violinist Ray Chen.

Featuring over 110 musicians on stage and 22 continuous movements of music, An Alpine Symphony is inspired by Richard Strauss’ own Alpine adventures as a young man. The work, depicting 11 hours of a day, evokes Strauss’ deep love for the Alps with visions of a glacier, meadows and the view from the summit.

The forces required for any performance of An Alpine Symphony are immense. Instruments required include: a heckelphone (similar to an oboe), Wagner tubas (a cross between trombone and a French horn), cowbells, wind machine, thunder machine and a celeste (which resembles an upright piano but sounds similar to a glockenspiel).

The repertoire included in this program will take audiences on a journey across Europe without them having to leave the comfort of their Hamer Hall seat.

The program starts in England with Vaughan Williams’ heavenly and serene Serenade to Music, set to text adapted from Shakespeare, whose 400th anniversary is celebrated in 2016. Originally written for 16 eminent British singers of the day, but here performed by the MSO Chorus, the piece takes its text from The Merchant of Venice and its discussion of the music of the spheres.

Audiences then travel to Russia for Tchaikovsky’s thrilling Violin Concerto performed by one of Australia’s most exciting players, Ray Chen. And finally the massive Alpine Symphony by Strauss with a huge orchestra makes this a wonderful journey from dusk to dawn in the Alps.

Winner of the Queen Elisabeth (2009) and Yehudi Menuhin Competitions (2008), Ray Chen was born in Taiwan and raised in Queensland, joining the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra for his solo orchestral debut at the age of eight. Alongside his reputation as an exciting young performer, Chen is also renowned for his series of quirky, self-made online videos that aim to broaden the reach of classical music through humour and education.

An Alpine Symphony will be released as part of the MSO’s Strauss cycle on ABC Classics.


Date: 8pm, Thursday 10, Friday 11 & Saturday 12 March
Venue: Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne
Tickets: $50 – $151* Prices subject to change
Bookings: or 03 9929 9600

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