James Ehnes

Walter Homburger, who died on July 25, at the age of 95, was a Patron of the WMCT, and an Honorary Advisor to the WMCT Foundation.  He assisted his wife Emmy, a former president of the Club, in coordinating the Centennial Celebration Concert, whose financial success resulted in the establishment of the Foundation. The WMCT and Foundation community join in sending Emmy, and her family, our deepest sincere condolences.

Mr Homburger’s first years in Canada (1940-41) were spent in internment camps in Quebec and New Brunswick, together with other European Jewish refugees who later made unprecedented contributions to Canadian life.  Musicians in this group included musicologist Helmut Blume, violinist Hymn Bress, historian Helmut Kallmann, CBC producer Franz Kraemer, and pianist (often heard at the WMCT) John Newmark.

He began his professions, of brilliant orchestra manager, consultant, impresario and artist manager, by borrowing enough money to bring Lotte Lehmann for three lieder recitals in Eaton Auditorium in January 1947.  He promoted a succession of extraordinary artists (including Glenn Gould, Victor Braun, and Jan Rubes), and his term as managing director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (1962-1987) set new standards.  He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1984.

In 1993 he came out of retirement to manage the developing career of WMCT Career Development Award winner James Ehnes. In 1999 to mark his 75th birthday Ehnes and Yo Yo Ma performed a recital at Roy Thomson Hall.  He was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement in 2010.

A memorial event will be announced at a later time.

For further obituary notices see:

TSM this year is a parade of WMCT Scholarship and Award winners, including David Braid, Jane Coop, James Ehnes, and Angela Park.  Leading the parade is Emily D’Angelo, mezzo-soprano, 2015-2016 Centennial Scholar, featured on August 4 in both the “Last Night of the Festival, Eh!”  at 7 pm, and in the TSM Late Night Encore at 10.30.

Musical Toronto writer Joseph So interviews James Ehnes, in Toronto as part of his 40th birthday Canadian tour.

Interview here:

Carolyn Maule, Russell Braun, James Ehnes at the WMCT 115th Anniversary Concert
Carolyn Maule, Russell Braun, James Ehnes at the WMCT
115th Anniversary Concert

WMCT Performers Nominated for 2016 Juno Awards
The nominees for the 2016 Juno Awards have been announced, and, once again, the lists are packed with artists who have performed for Music in the Afternoon. In the category of Instrumental Album of the Year, two of the five nominees are WMCT alumni.

Afiara Quartet with Caroline Léonardelli
Afiara Quartet with Caroline Léonardelli

Jens Lindemann and Tommy Banks are nominated for “Legacy Live” – Jens played for Music in the Afternoon March 12, 2015. Also nominated is the Afiara Quartet, with Skratch Bastid, for the album “Spin Cycle” – the Afiara Quartet along with Caroline Léonardelli opened the 118th season last October.
Three of the five nominees for Classical Album of the Year have played for the WMCT. Frequent performer and WMCT Career Development Award Winner (1991) James Ehnes is nominated for his album “Franck & Strauss: Violin Sonatas”. James has performed for the WMCT four times – on November 19, 1992; at the Centennial Celebration Concert on May 24, 1998; on December 6, 2007; and at the 115th Anniversary performance at Koerner Hall on May 2, 2013.

Nominated for a recording of “Liszt: Piano Sonatas & Sonnets” is Angela Hewitt who appeared on the WMCT stage first on December 5, 1985, and again at the WMCT Centennial Celebration Concert on May 24, 1998. Also nominated in this category is the Cecilia String Quartet, for their album “Mendelssohn, Op. 44, Nos. 1 & 2”. That group played for the WMCT on March 29, 2012, after winning the Banff International String Quartet Competition.

Carolyn Maule, Russell Braun, James Ehnes  115th Anniversary Concert
Carolyn Maule, Russell Braun, James Ehnes
115th Anniversary Concert

In the category of Classical Album of the Year: Large Ensemble or Soloist(s) with Large Ensemble, two of the five nominees have played for the WMCT. James Ehnes is nominated for the album “Vivaldi: Four Seasons” which he recorded with the Sydney Symphony. In addition, Stewart Goodyear is nominated for the album “Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos 2 & 3” which he recorded with the Czech National Symphony. Stewart appeared on the WMCT stage with James Ehnes on December 6, 2007.

Finally, in the category of Classical Album of the Year: Vocal or Choral Performance, Suzie Leblanc is among the performers on the nominated album “Peter-Anthony Togni: Responsio” recorded with Jeff Reilly, Andrea Ludwig, Charles Daniels and John Potter. Suzie sang for Music in the Afternoon on November 21, 2013 with Les Voix Humaines consort of viols.
You can listen to their award-winning albums – but you can hear them live, first, on the WMCT stage – still, chamber music at its finest.

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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:

 

See CBC Newsletter for more photos and info.

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.

~ cvb