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 protégé of the noted Canadian violinist Francis Chaplin. He studied with Sally Thomas at the Meadowmount School of Music and from 1993 to 1997 at The Juilliard School, winning the Peter Mennin Prize for Outstanding Achievement and Leadership in Music upon his graduation. Mr. Ehnes first gained national recognition 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, the youngest musician ever to do so. At age 13, he made his major orchestral solo debut with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.
He has won numerous awards and prizes, including the first-ever Ivan Galamian Memorial Award, the Canada Council for the Arts’ Virginia Parker Prize, and a 2005 Avery Fisher Career Grant. James has been honoured by Brandon University with a Doctor of Music degree (honoris causa) and in 2007 he became the youngest person ever elected as a Fellow to the Royal Society of Canada. In 2010 the Governor General of Canada appointed James a Member of the Order of Canada, and in 2013 he was named an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music, limited to a select group of 300 living distinguished musicians.
James Ehnes plays the "Marsick" Stradivarius of 1715. He currently lives in Bradenton, Florida with his family.Known for his virtuosity and probing musicianship, violinist James Ehnes has performed in over 30 countries on five continents, appearing regularly in the world’s great concert halls and with many of the most celebrated orchestras and conductors. In the 2014-2015 season James performs concerts with the Royal Philharmonic, Danish National, Melbourne, Sydney, NHK, Vienna, and Boston symphony orchestras, with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and recitals in Prague, London, Toronto, Fort Worth and Montreal. James also appears with the Ehnes Quartet across North America and will lead the winter and summer festivals of the Seattle Chamber Music Society, where he is the Artistic Director.
James Ehnes has an extensive discography of over 35 recordings featuring music ranging from J.S. Bach to John Adams. Recent projects include Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto paired with Shostakovich’s String Quartets Nos. 7&8, an American Chamber Music disc, a double CD of the complete violin works by Prokofiev, a disc featuring concertos by Britten and Shostakovich, four CDs of the music of Béla Bartók as well as a recording of Tchaikovsky’s complete oeuvre for violin. Upcoming releases will include works by Franck, Strauss, Leclair, Vivaldi, Berlioz, Janácek, and Tartini. His recordings have been honored with many international awards and prizes, including a Grammy, a Gramophone, and ten Juno Awards.