James Ehnes

When we now speak of the world’s finest young fiddlers we must surely add the name of this visionary Canadian. Throughout, Ehnes’s playing glows. You get the feeling every time he puts bow to string that something special will, quite naturally, just happen.
— Gramophone

Born in 1976 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, 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, Dutoit, Ivan Fischer, Paavo Järvi, Maazel, 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.

Highlights of the 2014/15 season include London Symphony with Alsop, Vienna Symphony with Elder, Frankfurt Radio Symphony with Orozco-Estrada, Danish National Symphony with Noseda, Orchestre National de Lyon with Yu Long, Royal Philharmonic with Dutoit, DSO Berlin and Sydney Symphony with Søndergård, Boston Symphony with Denève and Oslo Philharmonic with Petrenko, as well as an appearance at the BBC Proms with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and a tour of Europe with the Toronto Symphony, including a performance at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw.

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. 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 made his debut European tour in February 2014 with concerts at the Wigmore Hall and Auditorium du Louvre, 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’.” His recording of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, recorded live with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Ashkenazy received outstanding reviews. The Daily Telegraph wrote of the disc, “Ehnes’s gorgeous, supple tone is combined with that instinct for a composer’s distinctive character that makes his interpretations so compelling.” Ehnes’s recent recording of the Bartok Concerti was nominated for a 2012 Gramophone Award in the Concerto category. Recent releases include concertos by Britten, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Khachaturian.

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.