The Canadian violinist, James Ehnes, is the son of Alan Ehnes, trumpet professor at Brandon University (Canada). James began violin studies at the age of 4, at age 9 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. 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.
Hailed as "the Jascha Heifetz of our day" (Globe and Mail), violinist James Ehnes is widely considered one of the most dynamic and exciting performers in classical music. He has performed in over 30 countries on five continents, appearing regularly with many of the world's most well-known orchestras and conductors.
The 2010-2011 season features a challenging balance of concerto concerts, chamber music, and recitals in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Europe, the UK, South America, and across Canada and the USA. The season sees James’s much-anticipated return “down under” for which he also reprises his role as conductor in programs with the Melbourne and Adelaide symphony orchestras, and the Auckland Philharmonia, as well as an additional dates playing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Vladimir Ashkenazy. In the UK James will be heard with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in Béla Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and Viola Concerto (being recorded for future release on Chandos), as well as with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He returns to Kuala Lumpur with the Malaysian Philharmonic, to Vienna with the Wiener Symphoniker, to Sweden with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, and to Denmark for the Tivoli Festival. His North American dates include concerts in Portland, Indianapolis, Binghamton, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Québec City, Kitchener-Waterloo, Winnipeg, St John’s, Calgary, and a tour of Florida with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. James appears in recital at London’s Wigmore Hall, in both Cali and Bogota, Colombia, in Tilburg, the Netherlands, in Oberlin, OH, and at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.
James Ehnes is one of the most prolific recording artists in any style of music (with a total of 24 recordings released through 2009). His recordings have been honoured with many international awards and prizes, including a Grammy, a Gramophone, and 6 Juno Awards.. He has recorded repertoire ranging from J.S. Bach violin sonatas to John Adams's 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-to-back 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. 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).
Recent releases include Edward Elgar's Violin Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Sir Andrew Davis on the Onyx label and a disc of works by Paul Schoenfield with pianist Andrew Russo (Black Box). James's CD featuring the violin concertos of Korngold, William Walton and Samuel Barberr with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Bramwell Tovey conducting (CBC) was widely considered a highlight of 2006 and won the 2008 Grammy and Juno Awards. He will add to his extensive discography with the Fall 2010 release of a disc featuring the Felix Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and Octet (Onyx). His most recent release 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.
James Ehnes 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, Ehnes 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. On July 1, 2010 the Governor General of Canada appointed James 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.