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April 10, 2023 1:00 pm EST




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James Ehnes Photographed by Benjamin Ealovega in 33 Portland Place, London, UK on Sunday November 25, 2012 Commissioned & produced by Megan Ross – on behalf of James Ehnes – at: Moira Johnson Consulting 180 Metcalfe Street, Suite 404 Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 1P5, Canada t| 613.565.0666 e| [email protected] w| licence granted to James Ehnes (and his agents) for: publicity, press, promotion, web, concert programs, to accompany reviews, small bio photos in CD packaging etc. CD packaging use to be licensed separately. Licence includes PR use but if a high profile magazine who normally expects to pay for photos requests a photo for editorial use (ie not where client is submitting photos for a PR op) please put them in touch with me directly. Any questions just ask me…

James Ehnes on Breaking a String Mid-Performance

"How do we professionally handle a string break mid-performance?" We threw the question over to Canadian violin virtuoso James Ehnes to seek his advice.

The inevitable string breaks, coupled with your adrenaline rush while performing on stage might seem like a spell for disaster, doesn't it? Worry not, for this seemingly scary event happens to most performing musicians and you're not alone! What then, should we do when a string breaks, and how can we handle that professionally when on stage? VC reader Jason was keen to know.


Photo credit: Benjamin Ealovega

James Ehnes on How to Handle a Broken String Mid-Performance

Dear Jason,

Great question. I would say the answer would depend very much on the circumstance, though. When performing with an orchestra, I think it's best to quickly swap violins with the Concertmaster.

This does happen to me every few seasons, and the switch always seems to take forever with your adrenaline going like crazy, but for the audience, I'm told, it usually appears lightning-quick! If one is performing alone, with piano, or in a chamber group, I think it's best to stop, explain to the audience what's happened and change the string off stage.

This is why it's important to always have a spare set of strings in your case – preferably an old set that are already stretched out.

Finishing a piece on the lower strings a-la-Paganini-style seems a little silly to me. Mind you, I did once break an E string about 8 seconds from the end of a concerto – so finishing on the lower strings was my only real option. It worked out – more or less! I hope that helped, Jason? Thanks for your question. Thanks VC. All the best



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James Ehnes has established himself as one of the most sought-after violinists on the international stage. Gifted with a rare combination of stunning virtuosity, serene lyricism and an unfaltering musicality, Ehnes is a favourite guest of many of the world’s most respected conductors including Ashkenazy, Alsop, Sir Andrew Davis, Denève, Elder, Ivan Fischer, Gardner, Paavo Järvi, Mena, Noseda, Robertson and Runnicles. Ehnes’s long list of orchestras includes, amongst others, the Boston, Chicago, London, NHK and Vienna Symphony Orchestras, the Los Angeles, New York, Munich and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras, and the Cleveland, Philadelphia, Philharmonia and DSO Berlin orchestras.


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february, 2023


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