MONTREAL — Eighteen-year-old clarinetist Eric Abramovitz captured first place in the woodwinds category of the national Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (OSM) Standard Life Competition late last month.
The first-year Marianopolis College music student will receive a $10,000 scholarship from Standard Life.
“I was the youngest in the competition this year,” Abramovitz said between final exams at Marianopolis. “I was extremely happy even to get in. People from all over Canada sent in their recordings and only eight were accepted. So I was thrilled just to get in.”
His mother, Roslyn Abramovitz, a professional pianist, accompanied him on stage, and his entire family was in the audience.
This prestigious competition, now in its 72nd year, has helped launch the careers of world-renowned musicians including Angela Hewitt, Louis Lortie, Angela Cheng and Jan Lisiecki, as well as a number of OSM musicians, among them concertmaster Andrew Wan.
“The competition has an amazing heritage and winning it is a real achievement,” said Hugh Cawker, chair of liberal and creative arts at Marianopolis, which has had a close relationship with McGill University’s Faculty of Music for almost half a century.
Abramovitz, who lives in Dollard des Ormeaux, attended Lindsay Place High School, which has a strong music program. He discovered the clarinet at age five through the klezmer band his mother belonged to.
“I took a liking to the clarinet and I kept asking my parents [his father is Mark Abramovitz] for one. They didn’t take me seriously but I kept bugging them about it and they finally agreed. I started playing just before my seventh birthday, which is pretty young to start a wind instrument.”
Nancy Berman, one of his music teachers at Marianopolis, said, “It’s pretty rare that such a young person does so well. Eric is an incredible musician, as well as a very nice person.”
Outside Marianopolis, he also studies with Alain Desgagné, associate principal of the OSM, after 10 years of study with Zaven Zakarian.
He is also a five-time woodwinds winner in the Canadian Music Competition.
Abramovitz performed at the Sounds of Hope Concert in May, held at Oscar Peterson Hall. This youth orchestra helped raise funds for their less fortunate musical peers in Israel.
His prize also includes a scholarship to Domaine Forget, a music academy and international festival near La Malbaie in the Charlevoix region, and a scholarship to the National Arts Centre Young Artists Program.
Abramovitz said he appreciates the contacts that the award will offer him, but what he looks forward to the most is finishing his finals.