james ehnes tackles 10 questions

the classical beaver is extremely proud to present its interview with james ehnes – an amazing floridian fiddler who will be playing max bruch’s very first violin concerto with the oregon symphony this saturday, sunday, and monday night.  i’ve been listening to a recording of this concerto at home in preparation, and i tell you what, it’s effin’ brilliant.  and it’s gonna be ten times more incredible hearing it performed live at the schnitz with the band and mr. ehnes:

how would you describe the music you’re gonna play?

I think this piece is a great example of what romantic classical music has to offer – it has everything; beautiful melodies, virtuosic fireworks, great interplay between the soloist and the orchestra, and a wonderful proportion that really makes the piece sail by to the listener.

the concerto shares the program with Beethoven’s symphony #3… what do you think of pairing this with the violin number?

Seems good to me!  Certainly these are two cornerstones of the repertoire, so it’s a great way for someone to get to hear two landmark works in the same evening.

word.  if you could invite 3 composers to dinner, who would you choose and where would you go?

Definitely Mozart – I think he would be a lot of fun.  Berlioz would probably be very interesting.  And I think I’d like to have known Mendelssohn; he seems to have been universally liked and admired.  Where would we go…?  There’s a REALLY great barbeque restaurant near where I live in Florida called *Hickory Hollow.  I’d take anybody there.  And I’ll bet Mozart never had any good Southern barbeque.

you are a member of the order of canada – what are your responsibilities as a member and, more importantly, do you have a sword?

Sadly, I do not have a sword.  Being a member of the Order of Canada is a tremendous honour; the idea behind the order is to form a very loose association of Canadians who each, in their own way, strive to make the country a better place.  I hope I can do my part.

if tchaikovsky was a sports car, what sports car would he be?

A 1960 Ferrari 250 GTO.  Beautiful, exciting, demanding, and classically inspired.

amazing answer.  wow.  um, do you have any special pre-concert rituals or exercises or routines?

Not really.  Life on the road can be so unpredictable; I think it’s best to just be able to roll with the punches.

if i could buy you a drink, what would you order?

How fancy is the bar?  Upscale: champagne cocktail.  Dive: Bud light.  Either would make me happy.

your violin will be celebrating its 300th birthday pretty soon – any plans for a party?

Ha – I’ve actually thought about this… any ideas?

well jimmy, how about flying me and my readers out to florida for some bbq?!  think about it.  okay, let’s see… next question: what non-classical music are you excited about?

My latest new favourite is the soundtrack from the movie Superbad.  Great new funk, and some old classics like the Bar-Kays.

can i just say i love your spelling of “favourite.”  sorry, just had to say that.  okay, what are you expecting from rip city?

I’m looking forward to getting to know Portland, as I’ve really never spent any time there.  I hear great things about the Oregon Symphony, so I’m sure it will be a great musical experience.  And Carlos is always wonderful – we’ve worked together several times in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Dallas, and he’s one of my favourite conductors.  I think it should be a really fun week!

oh – you did it again!  alright folks, get your tix now to catch my new favourite violinist play with my favourite band in stumpland this saturday, sunday, and/or monday night.  mr. ehnes and beethoven 3?!  dear. god.

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2 Responses to “james ehnes tackles 10 questions”


  1. 1 elaine calder April 17, 2011 at 11:53 am

    “Floridian” violinist? James lives in Florida but he’s still a Canadian and always was. And Canadians are really proud of him – and understand why he and Kate might want to make their home somewhere he doesn’t have to put the cars up on blocks for half the year.


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