In 2000, Ehrlich was asked to leave the Audubon Quartet, then in residence at the university, by the other three members of the 30-year-old chamber group, and was replaced by Ellen Jewett. He responded by taking his former colleagues to court, and eventually won a $600,000 judgment, but appeals are still pending. In the midst of the controversy, Virginia Tech dismissed the group.
The university has now appointed Ehrlich to a one-year position in which he will work on organizing a music festival at Virginia Tech. The position also means that he can play the $1 million Bergonzi violin that the university bought for his use during his tenure in the Audubon Quartet.
"The faculty is uniformly furious about this," said hornist and music professor Wallace Easter. "There's a lot of negative feeling toward him the music department."
Easter added that the appointment made it appear that the university was endorsing Ehrlich's position in his fight with the remaining members of the Audubon. Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker called that assertion "bullpuckey."