James Ehnes was born in 1976 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. He began violin studies at the age of four, and at age nine became a student of Francis Chaplin. He studied with Sally Thomas at the Meadowmount School of Music and, from 1993 to 1997, at the Juilliard School. Mr. Ehnes first gained recognition in his home country 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, becoming the youngest musician ever to do so. At age thirteen, he made his major orchestral solo debut with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. He made his San Francisco Symphony debut in 2003.
In the 2013-14 season Mr. Ehnes performs in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Russia, Israel, Belgium, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Australia. Season highlights include concerts with the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, and Toronto Symphony; a three-week residency in Melbourne; and performances in London, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Brussels, Prague, Tel Aviv, and Moscow. Mr. Ehnes will also tour with his string quartet, the Ehnes Quartet, and lead the winter and summer festivals of the Seattle Chamber Music Society, where he is Artistic Director.
Mr. Ehnes’s discography contains more than thirty recordings. Recent projects include a disc featuring concertos by Britten and Shostakovich, three CDs of the music of Bartók, as well as a recording of Tchaikovsky’s complete works for violin. Upcoming releases include a double CD of Prokofiev’s complete violin works and a recording of Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto paired with Shostakovich’s String Quartets Nos. 7 and 8. His recordings have been honored with many international awards and prizes, including a Grammy award, a Gramophone Award, and seven Juno awards.
Mr. Ehnes was the recipient of a Avery Fisher Career Grant in 2005 and he has also been honored by Brandon University with an honorary Doctor of Music degree. In 2010 the Governor General of Canada appointed him a Member of the Order of Canada and in 2013 he was named an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music. Mr. Ehnes plays the 1715 "Marsick" Stradivarius violin. He currently lives in Bradenton, Florida with his wife and daughter.