A CANADIAN FIDDLER OF CHOICE – The Coast Reporter – March 27, 2009


James Ehnes, the young Canadian violinist called “the connoisseur’s fiddler of choice” by The Times of London, will make his Sunshine Coast début on Sunday, March 29.

The Coast Recital Society (CRS) concert starts at 2:30 p.m at the Raven’s Cry Theatre in Sechelt. Ehnes will perform with pianist Andrew Russo, and also appear at a 1:30 pre-concert talk.

By the time he tunes his priceless Stradivarius instrument backstage, Ehnes may well be in possession of his sixth Juno Award, as the awards are scheduled to be presented this weekend. Ehnes is nominated for Homage, a combined CD and DVD release of performances on 12 of the greatest violins ever made, all belonging to the esteemed Fulton collection that lends Ehnes his instrument of choice — the 1715 Ex Marsick Stradivarius.

Ehnes was born in 1976 in Brandon, Manitoba. In 1988 he won first prize at the Canadian Music Festival, the youngest musician ever to do so. At 13, he made his orchestral solo début with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. A graduate of the Juilliard School, his many awards include a 2005 Avery Fisher career grant. In 2007 he became the youngest person ever elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. The Society’s citation called him “one of the finest violinists of his generation” and noted his “international reputation of rare distinction for his performances of uncommon expressivity and musicianship with the world’s most renowned conductors and orchestras. ” Those conductors include Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Andrew Davis, Charles Dutoit and Sir Charles Mackerras.

In addition to his five (to date) Juno awards, Ehnes won a 2008 Grammy for a CD with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He and Andrew Russo recently recorded the works of Paul Schoenfield, the American composer whose music appears on the CRS concert program, along with works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms and John Adams.

Like Ehnes, Russo also studied at the Juilliard School in New York City. He works with many important American and European composers on projects involving electro-acoustic music and exploring the hybrid world of live musical performance and theatre. His many recordings include the piano and chamber works of John Adams