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James Ehnes

Violin

James Ehnes

Appears on: James Ehnes Plays Mozart with the Oregon Symphony

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent closure of concert halls, Ehnes announced the launch of a new online recital series entitled ‘Recitals from Home’ in June 2020. Ehnes recorded the six Bach Sonatas and Partitas and six Sonatas of Ysaÿe from his home with state-of-the-art recording equipment and released six episodes over the period of two months. These recordings have been met with great critical acclaim by audiences worldwide and Ehnes was described by Le Devoir as being “at the absolute forefront of the streaming evolution.”

Recent orchestral highlights include The MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall with Gianandrea Noseda, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig with Alexander Shelley, San Francisco Symphony with Marek Janowski, Frankfurt Radio Symphony with Andrés Orozco-Estrada, London Symphony with Daniel Harding, and Munich Philharmonic with Jaap van Zweden. In 2017, Ehnes premiered the Aaron-Jay Kernis Violin Concerto with the Toronto, Seattle, and Dallas symphony orchestras, and gave further performances of the piece with the Deutsches Symphonie- Orchester and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. During the 20/21 season, Ehnes was named as Artist in Residence with the National Arts Centre of Canada.

Alongside his concerto work, Ehnes maintains a busy recital schedule. He performs regularly at the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, Symphony Center Chicago, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Ravinia, Montreux, Chaise-Dieu, the White Nights Festival in St Petersburg, Verbier Festival, Festival de Pâques in Aix, and in 2018 he undertook a recital tour to Asia, including performances in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur.

As part of the Beethoven celebrations, Ehnes was invited to perform the complete cycle of Beethoven Sonatas at the Wigmore Hall in 2019/20 and in 20/21 performed the Grieg sonatas on tour with Orion Weiss. In 2016, Ehnes undertook a cross-Canada recital tour, performing in each of the country’s provinces and territories, to celebrate his 40th birthday.

As a chamber musician, he has collaborated with leading artists such as Leif Ove Andsnes, Renaud Capuçon, Louis Lortie, Nikolai Lugansky, Yo-Yo Ma, Antoine Tamestit, Jan Vogler, Inon Barnatan, and Yuja Wang. 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 Grammy Award (2019) for his live recording of Aaron Jay Kernis Violin Concerto with the Seattle Symphony and Ludovic Morlot, and a Gramophone Award for his live recording of the Elgar Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Andrew Davis. His recording of the Korngold, Barber, and Walton violin concertos won a Grammy Award for “Best Instrumental Soloist Performance” and a JUNO Award for “Best Classical Album of the Year.” His recording of the Paganini Caprices earned him universal praise, with 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’.” Recent releases include sonatas by Beethoven, Debussy, Elgar, and Respighi, and concertos by Walton, Britten, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Strauss, as well as the Beethoven Violin Concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Andrew Manze, which was released in October 2017 on Onyx Classics. 

Ehnes began violin studies at the age of five, became a protégé of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin at age nine, and made his orchestra debut with L’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal at age 13. He continued his studies with Sally Thomas at the Meadowmount School of Music and The Juilliard School, winning the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music upon his graduation in 1997. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and in 2010 was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. Ehnes was awarded the 2017 Royal Philharmonic Society Award in the Instrumentalist category.