From Tatooine, with love New Star Wars miniseries’ score features strings by longtime fan, Brandon violinist James Ehnes

As a lifelong Star Wars fan, Brandon-born violinist James Ehnes is thrilled his name is attached to the new Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries, scheduled to debut on Disney+ May 27.

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As a lifelong Star Wars fan, Brandon-born violinist James Ehnes is thrilled his name is attached to the new Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries, scheduled to debut on Disney+ May 27.

Ehnes said the show’s composer, Natalie Holt, admires his work and pitched the idea that they should collaborate after the pair finally met late last year.

While the project was initially shrouded in secrecy, Ehnes eventually discovered Holt was hired to compose the score for the latest live-action Star Wars series, and he was more than happy to travel to Los Angeles in March to lend his expertise.

Ewan McGregor reprises his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Disney+ miniseries of the same name. (Lucasfilm Ltd., ILM)

“The timing worked out beautifully,” he says over the phone. “I actually had a concert out in Orange County (California) that night, but during the day, I went into the Fox Studios where they did the scoring and I spent the day there and had a great time.”

The plot of Obi-Wan Kenobi takes place a decade after the events of Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, where the titular Jedi knight (played by Ewan McGregor) gets drawn into an adventure while he is watching over a young Luke Skywalker on the planet Tatooine.

Along with featuring the return of Star Wars acting alumni such as McGregor and Hayden Christensen, the show also includes new music from composer John Williams, whose work has defined the science-fiction franchise since its inception in 1977.

Bruce Bumstead/Brandon Sun Juno-winning violinist James Ehnes, who was born in Brandon, leads the string section on the score for miniseries Obi-Wan Kenobi.

To Ehnes, working alongside such industry heavyweights as Williams, Holt and orchestrator Pete Anthony made this project a special experience.

“Not just because it was Star Wars and all that, but because I was working with this great composer and this beautiful music, with these other great musicians in the orchestra.”

During his time in the studio, Ehnes led the string section and even provided some solo work, with Holt later telling Vanity Fair that these “emotional violin themes” will play a significant role in the series’ first episode.

Supplied James Ehnes, 46, says the Star Wars series has been part of his life since he was a child.

While Ehnes isn’t sure how much of his music will make the final cut, the 46-year-old is happy he got to tap into his “inner nerddom” after watching Star Wars movies since childhood.

“It’s a funny thing how I grew up with the original trilogy and then the next three (movies) came out when I was in college and then the last three have been coming out as I’ve been a father and my kids are into Star Wars,” he said.

“So it’s been a part of my whole life, and that’s just been really, really fun. So even if it’s a small part, it’s pretty cool.”

While Ehnes’s work on Obi-Wan Kenobi is not his first time collaborating on film and television projects, he is better known for his public performances.

After playing with l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal at age 13, Ehnes has served in the string section of various high-profile orchestras since then, from Boston to Vienna to Prague.

Despite enduring a long hiatus from in-person performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ehnes is currently on tour in Europe and rediscovering his love for the craft one show at a time.

“Everywhere you go, there’s been a slightly different vibe in terms of the recovery from COVID and all that,” he said. “But playing with full orchestras in full halls again, that’s my wheelhouse. So that’s what I’ve really been enjoying, getting back to it.”

Outside of his public performances, Ehnes’s recorded work has netted him a variety of industry accolades, including two Grammys, 11 Junos and a 2021 Gramophone award for artist of the year.


— The Brandon Sun

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