Born and raised in Vancouver, Jim has also lived in Prince Rupert, Cincinnati, and Taipei. He studied bassoon at UBC and at the University of Cincinnati, where he received his Master of Music degree in 1975. His teachers include Roland Small (Vancouver and Boston Symphony Orchestras), Otto Eifert (Cincinnati Symphony), Louis Skinner (famed reedmaker and teacher of bassoon reedmaking), and Yona Ettlinger (former principal clarinetist of the Israel Philharmonic and renowned conductor and chamber music instructor).
Prior to joining the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and Manitoba Chamber Orchestras in 1991, Jim was principal bassoon of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra (1976-79), the Vancouver Opera Orchestra (1981-91), the Taipei Municipal Symphony Orchestra (1983), as well playing as a regular extra in the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra from 1972 until 1992. He was appointed principal bassoonist of the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra in 2006. In 1997, for the sake of extra adventure, he took up the contrabassoon, and has resonated an octave lower ever since.
Since retiring from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in May 2012, Jim Ewen continues to play with the symphony “on call” but has more time to dedicate to his thriving reed business, Skookum Reeds.
As well as playing contrabassoon in the Racket of Bassoons, Jim Ewen has been the reed guru at Brooke Valley Bassoon Days since year 2. He has made the pilgrimage by car from Winnipeg to BVBD almost every year. Jim sets himself up in the reed room after breakfast and is there all day for people to drop by and receive help. In 2022, Jim will be present in our virtual reed room and also available to work one on one virtually.
Jim donates the cane which is sold at Brooke Valley Bassoon Days with 100% of the proceeds going to The Paul Buttemer Scholarship Fund.