Award-winning violinist James Ehnes comes home

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BRANDON, Man. – One of Canada’s shining stars, Brandon’s very own James Ehnes, returns to his hometown for a pro series recital next week.

This special addition to the regular season of the pro series will take place the evening of Monday, May 16, when the much-lauded violinist graces the stage of the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium (WMCA). Joining him will be his longtime colleague, pianist Andrew Armstrong. Together, they are touring Canada, celebrating Ehnes’ 40th birthday with his audiences.

“As the milestone of my 40th birthday approached, it struck me that I could give myself and my family no better gift than the opportunity to explore this great nation from West to East, North to South,” Ehnes said in a statement. “On the tour, I will visit every Province and Territory, reconnecting with the many Canadians who have supported me throughout my career and meeting new friends along the way.”

Ehnes’ discography, which includes several collaborations with Armstrong, is comprised of more than 40 recordings, surveying works from J.S. Bach to Paganini to Bruch. The newest of his CDs with Armstrong has been garnering glowing reviews. The Daily Telegraph has given five stars to the duo’s interpretations, noting that: “Armstrong and Ehnes are perfectly matched … (causing) shivers to run up and down the spine.” Other critics have qualified their playing as “thoughtful … eloquent … flawless” (Musical Toronto) and “imaginative … sumptuous” (Sunday Times.)

Photo of Bramwell Tovey
The composition Stream of Limelight, by Vancouver Symphony Orchestra conductor Bramwell Tovey, will be performed at Monday’s recital. (Tyler Boye)

Recently, the violinist won the 2016 Juno Award for Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber Ensemble for his recording of sonatas by Franck and Strauss. However, this is far from the only nod he has received from the music industry. Previously, Ehnes’ exquisite tone and superb musicianship had been rewarded with countless prizes including 10 earlier Junos, a Gramophone and in 2008, a Grammy Award for his recording with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO) and conductor Bramwell Tovey.

Ehnes’ friendship with Tovey can be traced back to when the violinist was 13 years old. He will perform the VSO leader’s composition Stream of Limelight at Monday’s recital.

“When James approached me for a work for his 40th birthday tour, I was delighted to celebrate our musical partnership in this way,” Tovey said in a release. “For the recital tour, without giving too much away, I have the chance to test that formidable technique and the way in which it is allied to an unerring musicality. It is my wish that Stream of Limelight will give James the opportunity to display those extraordinary gifts that bring so many people closer to the music when he performs.”

Along with the Brandon premiere of Tovey’s piece, Ehnes and Armstrong will also present Handel’s Sonata in D major, HWV 371; Beethoven’s Sonata in F major, Op. 24 “Spring”; as well as several virtuoso pieces that will be announced from the stage.

“It is absolutely great that James is coming back to Brandon on this tour,” said Greg Gatien, Acting Dean of Music at Brandon University (BU).

“We are understandably proud that he got such a wonderful start to his musical career while growing up in our city, and are thrilled that he continues to take time out of his busy schedule to revisit his roots.  And I can’t wait to hear him perform live again – there is nothing better than hearing James Ehnes play violin in the same room as you.”

Two years after winning the Canadian Music Competition’s Grand Prize in Strings, Ehnes made his orchestral solo debut with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra when he was 13 years old. In 2005, he was the youngest person to receive a Doctor of Music degree (honoris causa) from BU, and in 2007, he was elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada, again the youngest individual to receive such an honour. To this day, Ehnes maintains a strong link to BU as the School of Music’s Francis Chaplin Guest Professor of Violin.

Tickets for this recital in the WMCA are specially priced at $25 for adults, $20 for students, seniors and alumni, and $15 for Conservatory students. These tickets are not included in the pro series subscriptions and must be purchased through the WMCA box office.

The School of Music gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of Manitoba, through a Consolidated Arts Programming Grant through Culture, Heritage and Tourism.

Please note that pro series programmes are subject to change. For up-to-date listing of pro series and other performances at the School of Music, please visit


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