January 27, 1976 - Brandon, Canada
© Benjamin Ealovega
James Ehnes has established himself as one of the foremost violinists of his generation. Gifted with a rare combination of stunning virtuosity, serene lyricism and an unfaltering musicality, Ehnes is a favourite guest of many of the world’s most respected conductors including Ashkenazy, Alsop, Sir Andrew Davis, Denève, Dutoit, Elder, Ivan Fischer, Gardner, Paavo Järvi, Noseda, Robertson and Runnicles. Ehnes’s long list of orchestras includes, amongst others, the Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, New York, London Symphony, Philharmonia, BBC Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, DSO Berlin and the NHK Symphony orchestras.
Recent and future orchestral highlights include the Orchestra of the MET at Carnegie Hall, London Symphony, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Vienna Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Orchestre National de France, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Czech Philharmonic, Washington National Symphony and Oslo Philharmonic Orchestras. In the 2016/17 season and beyond, Ehnes premieres the Aaron-Jay Kernis Violin Concerto with Toronto Symphony Orchestra/Oundjian, Seattle SymphonyOrchestra/Morlot, Dallas Symphony Orchestra/Gimeno and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. In May 2017, Ehnes was announced as Instrumentalist of the Year at the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards.
Alongside his concerto work, James Ehnes maintains a busy recital schedule. He has appeared at festivals such as City of London, Ravinia, Montreux, Chaise-Dieu, the White Nights in St Petersburg, Festival de Pâques in Aix, and in 2009 he made a sensational debut at the Salzburg Festival performing the Paganini Caprices. Ehnes is a regular guest at the Wigmore Hall in London and at the 2007 BBC Proms he premiered a new work for violin and piano by Aaron Jay Kernis. In autumn 2016, Ehnes embarked on the second part of his cross-Canada recital tour to celebrate his 40th birthday.
As a chamber musician, he has collaborated with leading artists such as Andsnes, Lortie, Vogler and Yo-Yo Ma. In 2010, he formally established the Ehnes Quartet, with whom he has performed in Europe at venues including the Wigmore Hall, Auditorium du Louvre in Paris and Théâtre du Jeu de Paume in Aix, amongst others. Ehnes is the Artistic Director of the Seattle Chamber Music Society.
Ehnes has an extensive discography and has won many awards for his recordings including a 2008 Gramophone Award for his live recording of the Elgar Concerto with Sir Andrew Davis and the Philharmonia Orchestra. His recording of the Korngold, Barber and Walton violin concertos won a 2008 Grammy Award for ‘Best Instrumental Soloist Performance’ and a 2008 JUNO award for "Best Classical Album of the Year". His 2010 recording of the Paganini Caprices earned him universal praise, with Diapason writing of the disc, "Ehnes confirms the predictions of Erick Friedman", eminent student of Heifetz: "there is only one like him born every hundred years". Ehnes’s recent recording of the Bartók Concerti was nominated for a 2012 Gramophone Award in the Concerto category. Recent releases include concertos by Britten, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Khachaturian and sonatas by Beethoven, Debussy, Elgar and Respighi.
Ehnes began violin studies at the age of four, became a protégé of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin aged nine, made his orchestral debut with Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal aged 13 and graduated from The Juilliard School in 1997, winning the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and in 2010 was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.
James Ehnes plays the "Marsick" Stradivarius of 1715.