Celebrated Canadian violinist plays Iqaluit this evening
After his first visit in 2012, James Ehnes returns to Nunavut
When the world-famous Canadian-born musician James Ehnes last visited Iqaluit in 2012, the landscape of Sylvia Grinnell Park put on a concert for him.
“Nature itself has its own soundtrack,” Ehnes said from his Yellowknife hotel May 23 shortly before departing for Iqaluit.
“Out in the park, there was a stillness. It’s hard to find real silence. In the park, I could hear the wind, but there was no rustling of leaves. It’s not the first thing I picked up, but when I did, it was kinda shocking.”
Ehnes, one of Canada’s most successful musicians with nine Juno awards and one Grammy under his belt, will put on a concert at St. Jude’s Anglican Cathedral May 24.
The concert, featuring Ehnes on the violin, will include piano accompaniment by Andrew Armstrong.
Ehnes has performed in many of the world’s largest and most famous concert halls.
And his current tour includes most of Canada’s biggest cities.
But Iqaluit was added to the list of stops, Ehnes said, because of its uniqueness.
“I find it really neat how there’s this old fiddling tradition [in Nunavut] from the old whaling fleets. Last trip I had the chance to be introduced to local music, and hopefully this time around I can learn some more.”
In designing the current tour’s program, Ehnes said it was important to recognize that music fans in Iqaluit will likely have less concert-going expereince than fans in, say, Ottawa, Montreal or Toronto.
“Anywhere you play you want to do your best, obviously, and you want to be as communicative as possible with the music. But finding a program for people of different levels of listening experience was important.”
Even though Ehnes, who showed signs of musical genius from an early age, now lives in Florida with his wife and two children, the musician said he still feels very attached to Canada.
“That’s the fuel behind the idea for this whole tour: spend a bit more time in Canada, reconnect to some places I haven’t had a chance to revisit in a long time, learn about new places. And with election season on, I think everyone wants to get out of the US for a while.”
Ehnes admitted that he listens almost exclusively to classical music in his spare time, but that he loves old soul singers from the mid-1900s as well.
“And I have a four-year-old daughter so I listen to the “Frozen” [movie] soundtrack a lot. But that’s not necessarily by choice.”
The Alianait Arts Festival is hosting Ehnes’ concert at the Anglican cathedral at 7:30 p.m. May 24.
Tickets, which can be bought on Alianait’s website or at Arctic Ventures, cost $24 to $27 for adults, $12 to $15 for youths and are free for children and elders.
Tickets can also be bought at the door.