Meet The Performers

Visiting Artist

James Ehnes

“No collection of virtuoso showpieces demands greater technical prowess than Paganini’s 24 Caprices. Yet James Ehnes, whose artistry suggests that in Paganini’s age he would have enjoyed similar stature to the great man, succeeds impressively in being more than merely thrilling…this is not simply a high-wire act. It’s playing of phenomenal control, allied to musicianship of the highest order.” - The Times (London)

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.


In the 2011-2012 season James maintains his challenging balance of concerto concerts, chamber music, and recitals as well as adding a new role to his repertoire, that of Artistic Director of the Seattle Chamber Music Society. Once again performances take him throughout North America, to England, Scotland, Germany, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark and Norway.

In the UK James will be heard with the Royal Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra. He returns to Vienna for Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Tonkünstler Orchestra, and performs Walton’s Violin Concerto with the Hamburg and Oslo philharmonic orchestras, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in Copenhagen, The Hague and Heerlen in The Netherlands and Bernstein’s Serenade with the Orquestra Metropolitana de Lisboa.

James’s North American dates include concerts with the Houston, St. Louis, Baltimore, Pasadena, Utah, New World, Minnesota, Atlanta, Montréal and Toronto symphony orchestras, as well as performances with the Sarasota Orchestra, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and the Hamilton Philharmonic. He appears with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Charles Dutoit several times throughout the season, playing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in Philadelphia, Strathmore and at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

James appears in recital at London’s Wigmore Hall, in Bilboa, Spain, San Fransisco’s Herbst Theater, for Chamber Music Society of Detroit, in Edmonton, Brandon, Kingston and with pianist Menahem Pressler for Chamber Music St. Cloud. An avid chamber musician, James will spend a week as part of a Quartetin- Residency at Mercer University in Macon, GA, will perform with American Virtuosi Chamber Concerts in Fort Meyers, FL, and will once again perform throughout the Seattle Chamber Music Summer Festival.


James will add to his extensive discography of over 25 recordings with the Fall release of two new recordings: a disc of Bartok’s two Violin Concertos and the Viola Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic and Gianandrea Noseda (Chandos) and Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with the Sydney Symphony and Vladimir Ashkenazy (Onyx). His most recent release, featuring the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and Octet (Onyx), has been earning raves worldwide: “dazzling “(Classic FM), “a pure delight” (BBC Music Magazine), “outstanding and unreservedly recommended” (Daily Telegraph), “It just doesn’t get any better than this” (MusicWeb International).

His recordings have been honoured with many international awards and prizes, including a Grammy, a Gramophone and six JUNO Awards. In 2009 he released a new recording of the repertoire that launched his recording career, Paganini’s 24 Caprices (Onyx), which he first recorded 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 for Best Classical Recording. His Six Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin by Bach (Analekta) won both a JUNO Award and earned James the title of Young Artist of the Year at the Cannes Classical Awards.


James Ehnes was born in 1976 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. He 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. 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 firstever 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. On July 1st 2010, the Governor General of Canada appointed James a Member of the Order of Canada.

James Ehnes plays the "Marsick" Stradivarius of 1715. He currently lives in Bradenton, Florida with his wife Kate.

Please note: Biographies on the CSO website are based on the information that was most recently provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on the artists' own websites or those of their representatives.