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Musical World

James Ehnes

  • Violinist

Biography

In the 2009-2010 season James Ehnes performed in Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Canada and the United States. In Europe, James was featured in concerts with the BBC Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic, and the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin.  In North America, he performed with the Baltimore, St. Louis, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, Columbus, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, Toronto, Montreal, Victoria, Manitoba Chamber, and National Arts Centre orchestras. In addition to his many orchestral engagements, James appeared in recital in Detroit, Aspen, Toronto, Vancouver, Brandon, Montreal, and Glasgow, and gave the New York premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis’s Two Movements with Bells at the famed Le Poisson Rouge in a concert celebrating the composer’s 50th birthday. He also performed for the 16th consecutive year with the Seattle Chamber Music Society, where he is the Associate Artistic Director.  The 2010-2011 season features tours to Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia in addition to performances throughout Canada, the US, and Europe in repertoire ranging from Bartok and Kernis to Vivaldi and Bach.

Ehnes’s extensive discography of over 20 recordings has been honoured with numerous international awards and prizes, including a GRAMMY, a GRAMOPHONE, and 6 JUNO Awards. His latest addition is a new recording of the repertoire that launched his recording career, Paganini’s 24 Caprices (Onyx), released in October 2009, about which the Times writes “[Ehnes’s] artistry suggests that in Paganini's age he would have enjoyed similar stature to the great man.” James’s first recorded the Paganini Caprices in 1995 for Telarc. His JUNO Award-winning release of HOMAGE (Onyx), a CD/DVD set featuring performances on 12 of the greatest violins and violas ever made, all belonging to the extraordinary Fulton Collection continues to garner exceptional reviews.

Other recent releases include Elgar’s Violin Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis (Onyx) and a disc of works by Paul Schoenfield with pianist Andrew Russo (Black Box). James’s CD featuring the violin concertos of Korngold, Walton and Barber with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Bramwell Tovey conducting (CBC Records) was widely considered a highlight of 2006 and won the 2008 GRAMMY and JUNO Awards.

In January 2006, he celebrated the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth with the release of a recording of Mozart's complete oeuvre for solo violin and orchestra. The five Violin Concertos and three single movement works– Adagio K 261, Rondo K 269, and Rondo K 373 – features an ensemble of extraordinary musicians which Ehnes gathered from around the world and directed himself (CBC Records) and has widely received top praise making it “a clear first choice in the field” (Classic FM). James Ehnes has recorded repertoire ranging from Bach Violin Sonatas to John Adams Road Movies. His CBC recordings with l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal of Max Bruch’s Concertos nos. 1 and 3 (with Charles Dutoit) and Concerto no. 2 with the Scottish Fantasy (with Mario Bernardi) won back-toback Juno awards in 2001 and 2002 for Best Classical Recording. In January 2002, he was named Young Artist of the Year at the Cannes Classical Awards for his Six Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin by Bach (Analekta), which was also awarded a JUNO award in 2001.

James Ehnes was born in 1976 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. He began violin studies at the age of four, at age nine he became a protégé of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin. He studied with Sally Thomas at the Meadowmount School of Music and from 1993 to 1997 at The Juilliard School, winning the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music upon his graduation. Mr. Ehnes first gained national recognition in 1987 as winner of the Grand Prize in Strings at the Canadian Music Competition. The following year he won the First Prize in Strings at the Canadian Music Festival, the youngest musician ever to do so. At age 13, he made his orchestral solo debut with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. He has won numerous awards and prizes, including the first ever Ivan Galamian Memorial Award, the Canada Council for the Arts’ prestigious Virginia Parker Prize, and a 2005 Avery Fisher Career Grant. In October 2005, James was honoured by Brandon University with a Doctor of Music degree (honoris causa) and in July 2007 he became the youngest person ever elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada.  In July 2010 he received the honor of being named a Member of the Order of Canada.

James Ehnes plays the "Marsick" Stradivarius of 1715 and gratefully acknowledges its extended loan from the Fulton Collection. He currently lives in Bradenton, Florida with his wife Kate.