Premium Content:

James Ehnes, A Master of His Craft

‘Mercifully free of affection or vanity, yet blessed with as stunning a technique and as intriguing a musical personality as any violinist on the circuit, he seems set to become one of classical music’s biggest names…James produces a simply gorgeous palette of timbres – sometimes warm and velvety, sometimes with the pellucid clarity of lark song at dawn, elsewhere thrillingly powerful and incisive!’ So wrote the London Times reviewer of Ehnes’s Wigmore Hall debut in February last year.

This year, Ehnes won a Grammy Award in the category of Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra) for the Barber/Korngold/Walton: Violin Concertos album.

- Advertisement -

OUTinPerth’s Terry Larder spoke to James Ehnes to find out more about the man behind the music as he embarks on his Australian and New Zealand tour.

What is the one question you hate to be asked and why?

I’m hesitating with that one as I’m not often asked thinking questions (chuckles with a broad, baritone Canadian voice)…oh, there is one…I came from a town in Manitoba, Canada, in a place called Brandon. Not a particularly large or well-known town, which despite its size has a strong musical culture, but quite often people read Brandon, Manitoba…they act with disbelief…how could you possibly have any such training and that gets a little tiring! (drawing a long breath) particularly coming from people from NYC or Toronto or places that happen to think they’re the centre of the Universe.

On the Australian leg of your tour you will be performing Bernstein’s Serenade in both Melbourne and Perth. I believe that the Artistic Director in Perth requested this piece. Is this common with other orchestras?

I’m fairly sure that this is not common for violinists but I do want the orchestras to make the first decision. There are just so many great violin concertos out there. I’m eager to play what people want to hear. And a piece like the Bernstein is not one I play that often, in fact, I usually only play once a year!

You won the Grammy award this year – a wonderful recognition of your work. What is the one recording that you are most proud of and why?

Well, I guess if I had to ‘whittle it down’ to one it would be complete works of Mozart’s Violin Concertos. It has a special significance for me as I selected my favourite players from all over the world; I played and conducted, edited and was also heavily involved in the production of the CD. It was probably the most intense project I have ever done. I did more for that cd that I ever done for my other recordings. There are some recordings where I just show up and play the piece and then it’s out of my hands. So if had to choose one then it would definitely be the Mozart.

What has been the most embarrassing moment for you on stage?

Yep, I remember I had a set of performances a few year ago with the New Jersey Symphony, where they performed every night in a different place…and in every place it seemed I forgotten some crucial piece of clothing. It started off not too badly where I forgot a bow tie, and the next night my jacket…and the one I’m remembering is somehow I ended up without my trousers (laughs a lot…me included!). Their stage manager came to my rescue. He weighed about three times as much as I do. I had to borrow a belt and hitch them up at the back, you know he was a healthy 320lb guy; I looked like a kind of a goofy clown on stage and that’s something I don’t want to repeat! There were a few juggles from the audience that night.

Perth audiences will be cast into his magical musical spell (like I was just listening to him talk!!). He will perform Bernstein’s Serenade on August 22nd and 23rd at the Perth Concert Hall. Ehnes will be playing this beautiful piece of music on the 1715 ‘Ex Marsick Stradivarius’, on loan from the Fulton collection.

Latest

See the paintings shortlisted for the Archibald Prize

Some very familiar faces have been featured.

UK Labour suspend Lloyd Russell-Moyle, forcing him out of the election

The MP says he will fight to clear his name.

Youth engagement grants announced

Including support for a Rainbow Ball for LGBTIQA+ youth in the mid-west.

‘Smalltown Boy’ gets a makeover for its 40th anniversary

There's only 1000 copies of the new mixes available on CD.

Newsletter

Don't miss

See the paintings shortlisted for the Archibald Prize

Some very familiar faces have been featured.

UK Labour suspend Lloyd Russell-Moyle, forcing him out of the election

The MP says he will fight to clear his name.

Youth engagement grants announced

Including support for a Rainbow Ball for LGBTIQA+ youth in the mid-west.

‘Smalltown Boy’ gets a makeover for its 40th anniversary

There's only 1000 copies of the new mixes available on CD.

Max Richter to undertake his first ever world tour

He'll be playing a concert in Perth in February 2025.

See the paintings shortlisted for the Archibald Prize

Some very familiar faces have been featured.

UK Labour suspend Lloyd Russell-Moyle, forcing him out of the election

The MP says he will fight to clear his name.

Youth engagement grants announced

Including support for a Rainbow Ball for LGBTIQA+ youth in the mid-west.