James Ehnes and Andrew Armstrong 2April 28, 2016
Today is the day that James Ehnes embarks on his cross Canada concert tour to celebrate his 40th Birthday.  The inaugural concert will be presented as part of the Ottawa Chamber Music concert series and between now and November 5 he will visit every province and territory in Canada with his family.  Sunday May 15, he will be performing in Regina.   According to James, after a number of years of planning, this is a very exciting day!
The Cecilian Chamber Series is indebted to James Ehnes and his amazing piano partner Andrew Armstrong bro giving our series its phenomenal series opening concert.  People who were at that concert on October 3, 2011 still talk about it and describe it as one of the exceptional musical experiences of their lives.    And so my life as Artistic Director began!
In the short time they are in Regina, they are also conducting masterclasses – both violin and piano.  One of the violinists, registered to perform was a young violin student sitting in the audience at the masterclass James gave in 2011.  She and her family have very fond memories of that time.  Assuredly the experience of playing for and learning from him will stay with this student forever.
The effect outstanding artists, such as James Ehnes, have on their audiences is really quite remarkable.   Their commitment and dedication to their art means the music they performances transport us to a place of human emotion and understanding that is beyond anything words can express.   The inspiration and comfort that it provides is something that only comes from experiencing great music live.
Two years ago a few of us on the “concert team” had the opportunity to hear James and Andrew in a performance in Saskatoon.  It was then that we heard about this birthday tour and the fact that they hoped Regina and the Cecilian Chamber Series would be included. Of course there was no doubt we were going to make that work.
 It was great to connect with them both. James of course was kept busy chatting with audience members and signing CD’s.  So we got to catch up with Andrew.  When I commented to him “Do you know what you have done to my life?” his response was “I’m sorry and you’re welcome!”    How appropriate! It has been a crazy and wonderful ride every step of the way.
To think that the energy and enthusiasm that that concert brought to the city has been able to provide the momentum for the past 5 years is quite phenomenal.  A total of 16 concerts have taken place in the “World Stage” concerts of the Cecilian Chamber Series since the first James Ehnes concert.  From individual ticket sales, to a subscription series with numbers growing every year it appears that great chamber music is something that speaks to Regina audiences.  It takes a team of people dedicated to great music to make this happen and the music, along with the appreciation shown by audience members, to a great extent provides the rewards.
We have grown as a series and so has James Ehnes!  When he was here in 2011, he was newly married.  Now he has two small children who along with his wife are joining in the tour.  Andrew Armstrong was also recently married (thank goodness for FACEBOOK!).  We are so looking forward to seeing them and ESPECIALLY hearing them again.