James Ehnes turned 40 on Wednesday, January 27. He was born on Mozart’s birthday, although 220 years later, and, like Mozart, Ehnes displayed considerable musical ability from an early age. On the occasion of his 40th the CBC was able to persuade him to participate in building a “40 photos for 40 years” slide show which is available here:
At the age of 15, on December 1,1991, Ehnes became the second winner of the then-fledgling WMCT Career Development Award, winning first prize over finalists Erika Raum, Catherine French, and Lara St. John. He remains the youngest winner in the history of the award. As part of his prize, he returned to Toronto to play in the WMCT’s 95th season, on the 19th of November, 1992, and this concert marked his official Toronto debut. Accompanied on that occasion by Montreal pianist Louise-Andrée Baril, his performance earned a standing ovation. He has since returned to the WMCT stage three times, most recently with Russell Braun and Carolyn Maule on the occasion of the WMCT’s 115th anniversary, in a special concert at Koerner Hall on May 2, 2013.
In the photo above, Ehnes is shown in 1993, the year he started at Julliard, with Walter Homburger, who was his first manager. Walter, former managing director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (from 1962 to 1987) and is the husband of Emmy Homburger, who was WMCT President in the early 2000’s. Walter also celebrated a birthday in January, on the 22nd, although it was not his 40th.
The WMCT is proud of all that James Ehnes has achieved in his first forty years, and wishes him all the best for the next forty.