James Ehnes was born in 1976 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. He began violin studies at age four and at nine became a protégé of Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin. He gained national recognition in 1987 as winner of the grand prize in strings at the Canadian Music Competition; the following year he became the youngest musician to win the first prize in strings at the Canadian Music Festival. At age thirteen, he made his orchestral solo debut with the Montreal Symphony. Mr. Ehnes studied with Sally Thomas at the Meadowmount School of Music and in 1997 graduated from the Juilliard School. He made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 2003 as soloist in Kurt Weill’s Violin Concerto and returned most recently in 2010.
This season, Mr. Ehnes appears in the US, Canada, the UK, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. He plays the Brahms Concerto with Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra in New York, tours to the far north of Canada with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, appears in a solo recital at the Aix-en-Provence Easter Festival, and returns to the Philharmonia, Rotterdam Philharmonic, and the Saint Louis, Toronto, Gothenburg, and City of Birmingham symphony orchestras. He also performs chamber music with his string ensemble, the Ehnes Quartet, and leads the winter and summer festivals of the Seattle Chamber Music Society, where he is Artistic Director.
James Ehnes has a discography of more than twenty-five recordings. His CBC recordings with the Montreal Symphony of works by Bruch won Juno Awards for Best Classical Recording in 2001 and 2002. In 2002, Mr. Ehnes was named Young Artist of the Year at the Cannes Classical Awards for his recording of Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (Analekta), which was also awarded a 2001 Juno Award. Recent projects include a re-recording of the Paganini Caprices, two CDs of the music of Béla Bartók, and a recording of Tchaikovsky’s complete works for violin. Upcoming releases include another Bartók disc and concertos by Britten, Shostakovich, and Prokofiev. His recordings have received numerous awards and prizes, including a Grammy, a Gramophone Award, and six Juno Awards.
Mr. Ehnes was awarded the first Ivan Galamian Memorial Award, as well as the Canada Council for the Arts Virginia Parker Prize and a 2005 Avery Fisher Career Grant. He holds an honorary doctorate from Brandon University, was the youngest person ever elected Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada, and has been appointed Member of the Order of Canada (2010). He plays the "Ex Marsick" Stradivarius of 1715, on extended loan from the Fulton Collection.