Decca signs fashion model violinist

Decca signs fashion model violinist


norman lebrecht

January 12, 2017

Decca has signed Ray Chen.

It’s ‘a major new recording deal and multimedia partnership which celebrates his exceptional musicianship and unique style’.

 His website says: ‘ In his unstinting efforts to break down barriers between classical music, fashion and pop culture, he is supported by Giorgio Armani and was recently featured in Vogue magazine.’

Ray says: ‘I’m super stoked to be joining forces with the awesome team at Decca Classics. We’ll be working together on a variety of projects which include the recordings of classic repertoire that everyone loves but I’m happy that I’ll have a partner which will help boost the multimedia side of things too.’


  • Ungeheuer says:

    Figures that Eschenbach would support pretty boy. Thank you for alerting me in advance about what NOT to purchase and what to ignore in the coming years. These classical music marketing people are beyond belief. Sad.

  • jk96 says:

    How is there no reporting or news on the Elbphilharmonie opening from last night???

  • Sixtus says:

    Vogue’s standards have been declining for some time. Hell, they even let me into a photo spread in the Spring 2012 issue of Vogue Hommes International.

  • Sean Bishop says:

    To call him a Fashion model violinist is really a bit mean.
    Has he ever walked the catwalk? no……fashion spreads…no
    He was featured in Vogue as he is a world class musician, whom happens to be easy on the eye!
    He won the Queen Elisabeth comp and the Menuhin as well!
    He released 3 Albums with Sony and now I guess Decca have made him a new contract.
    If anyone knows Ray Chen, they will know he is all about getting people of all ages into Music!
    We need more like him.

    • THOMAS GOSSARD says:

      Ditto +Sean Bishop re: Chen, regardless what you may think of all the selling and marketing Decca is lavishing on him, is a solid musician with a very stylish manner and gorgeous sound. He deserves a break. After all it is only advertising and to some extent hyping a musician that they get the attention they really do deserve. You don’t have to shell out any cash in order to hear some of his fine playing. It is too bad that a comparably fine violinist in Stefan Jackiw doesn’t get the same treatment but that’s the biz as is.

    • Olassus says:

      I have a positive impression of his musicianship myself. There is much sincerity. The other stuff should not be held against him.

  • Chrisso says:

    Last weekend the worst performance of the Brahms Concerto I’ve ever heard was broadcast from Bremen with Chen as soloist. Though technically extremely good it was utterly formless and static, full of awful cosmetic effects, cute little tenuti and the like. The flabby orchestral playing didn’t help much, its true.

  • esfir ross says:

    Stefan Jackiw’s wonderful violinist, always a pleasure to attend his concerts.

  • Ruben Greenbergr says:

    It”s no good being as ugly as the back of a bus these days, even in Classical music. I wonder how Max Reger would have fared today?

    • Schnitzel von Krum says:

      Sorry to have to inject a positive note here, but isn’t Augustin Hadelich, the wonderful German-Italian violinist, Grammy-winner, and teenaged survivor of a tragic house fire which left him scarred for life, doing pretty darned well these days?

  • David Boxwell says:

    I’m like super stoked Eschy’s awesomely talented, erm, “protege” is recording for this legendary label.

  • M2N2K says:

    His technical skills are quite brilliant, but his musicianship is rather mediocre.

    • Annoyed says:


      • M2N2K says:

        In this case, however, my conclusion expressed here is based not only on my own taste, experience, knowledge and expertise, but also on the fact that all other good musicians with whom I have discussed RC’s recent performances agreed with my opinion.

  • Anon says:

    Surprising choice. The model thing didn’t work for Warner (Charlie Siem), and the violinist thing doesn’t appear to have worked for the Sony / Chen partnership.
    Despite being active on social media, Chen didn’t sell enough for Sony, and has little more following than other similar artists who engage less in that medium. What do Decca think they can do better to be worth the cash?

    • LS says:

      RC appeals to a generation that doesn’t buy cds. At this point, almost everybody streams at least some, if not most music and music videos. Exposure works both ways, if a violinist makes himself very accessible through social media, why would anyone need to buy a cd to get a taste of his playing?

  • Cyril Blair says:

    Does Eschenbach cultivate that Dr. Evil look or is it unconscious?

  • Brian says:

    Someone certainly put a lot of effort into making a promotional video for the signing:

    I don’t know about his playing but he doesn’t lack for charisma.

  • Will Roseliep says:

    Decca could greatly benefit from this. Chen is a huge social media draw. Unlike some commenters I enjoy his playing — not my favorite, but certainly not bad — but I view the three-record deal as a secondary concession from Decca. They benefit primarily by tapping Chen’s extensive fanbase and marketing skill. (What do we call these types of deals now, where the actual recording part of the contract is a distant second in terms of importance? Is this a Decca sponsorship? Is Chen a “brand ambassador” or some equally annoying term for the label?) Regardless, I’d love to have a glance at the contract.

    • Anon says:

      What “extensive fanbase and marketing skill”? It’s insufficient for Sony to want to retain him. Chen’s social media profile has no greater reach than Decca’s existing violinists, possibly less. Still feel like a good deal?

      • Will Roseliep says:

        So, Anon, you think Sony signed him out of the goodness of their hearts? I’m not buying it. Classical records barely sell anymore. Chen doesn’t have 10M aggregate followers on social media, but he’s *extremely* deft in his use of FB live, IG, Snapchat etc. That much is obvious if you watch him regularly. If you’re Sony you’re getting a talent who’s comfortable on the dog-and-pony solo circuit, whose presence jumps off the screen and can be of use in any number of non-album projects. We don’t know the details of the contract (I can’t find it anywhere) but I’m 99% certain this is why Chen was hired.