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Entertainment & Arts

Hollywood Bowl contest to play with violinist Ray Chen yields the weird and wonderful

Violinist Ray Chen plays with the Bamberg Symphony, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, during a rece
Violinist Ray Chen, photographed playing at UCLA with the Bamberg Symphony.
(Reed Hutchinson )

After the Los Angeles Philharmonic launched its “Play With Ray” competition, offering a chance to play with star violinist Ray Chen onstage at the Hollywood Bowl, the entries came rolling in — more than 800 of them from 73 countries, submitted by eager amateurs ranging in age from 6 to 76.

The competition, announced in late March, calls for one lucky winner to play Bach’s Double Concerto alongside Chen at the Bowl on Aug. 8. The promise of that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity sent applicants scrambling to catch the judges’ attention — be it through mastery of their craft, some creative videotaped performances, or both.

Ten-year-old Nesya Fertel from Maryland submitted a YouTube video featuring herself playing next to a Ray Chen sock puppet, complete with spiky black hair and a tiny bow and violin.

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The award for strangest application just might go to Evelyn Welch, 21, from New York, who posted an Instagram video of her alternating between CPR on a manikin and playing violin with practiced ease.

“Bach’s Concerto for two violins and mannequin — perfect way to polish my BLS skills while practicing for #playwithray,” she posted.

A full-size cardboard cut-out of a wild-eyed Chen plays a leading role in 15-year-old Sana Heaven’s submission. Heaven, who is from British Columbia, plays beside the cut-out and occasionally engages with it, as if it were the real Chen. When the video is over she gives cardboard Chen a celebratory bow-bump.

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Cuteness (and talent) spill over in an Instagram post by Haru Nakamura, 10, from Japan. Just watch this video to see for yourself.

The scenery is at its finest in a video by dapper Juan Jose Peña Aguirre, 9, from Switzerland. The snowcapped mountains in the background serve as the perfect accompaniment to a grand performance.

And Herman Baiatian, 23, from Ukraine has some video-making fun complete with a photo of a deer and some clever captioning.

There are hundreds of these video to peruse should the urge strike. Just search for “Play With Ray” on YouTube, Instagram or Facebook.

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Three finalists will be flown to L.A. in early August, and one winner will land onstage at the Bowl with Chen.


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