Since the age of 7, Eric Abramovitz has studied with some of Canada’s most prestigious clarinet teachers. He took first prize at the Canadian Music Competition six times and performed as a soloist with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre symphonique de Québec.
However, his pitch-perfect career was thrown off-track.
In 2013, Abramovitz applied to complete his bachelor’s degree at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles.
Yehuda Gilad, a professor at the school, accepts two students a year, and he can afford to be picky. He is considered one of the greatest clarinet teachers in the world. On top of that, every student who is accepted into Colburn receives a full scholarship, which includes tuition, room and board, and money for meals and other expenses. A scholarship at the school is worth about $50,000 a year.
According to the Montreal Gazette, being chosen for this scholarship is far more than a foot in the door — it virtually guarantees becoming a well-paid symphony musician straight out of school.
And, of course, Abramovitz cleared all the hurdles to get there. After finally making it through the prescreening process, he flew to Los Angeles in February 2014 to perform a live audition.
He was accepted. Yet, the plot thickens.
Abramovitz didn’t receive his acceptance email. Another student at McGill, the school he was attending, did. That student was Jennifer Lee, his serious girlfriend of five months.
She sent Colburn an email pretending to be Abramovitz, turning down the scholarship. Then she sent a fake email to Abramovitz, pretending to be Yehuda Gilad saying that he had not been offered the scholarship. Writing as Gilad, she offered a scholarship of $5,000 a year to study at the University of Southern California. Tuition at USC is $51,000, which Lee knew Abramovitz couldn’t afford.
According to the Montreal Gazette, Lee did the deception so that Abramovitz wouldn’t transfer away from her. He finished his degree at McGill.
After graduating, he worked on a two-year certificate program at USC, where he studied under Gilad part-time.
Abramovitz learned of the deception two years later and sued Lee for $300,000. On Wednesday, Ontario, Canada, Superior Court Judge David L. Corbett ruled in his favor, adding $50,000 to the award.
The judge said, “I cannot speculate as to how high and how quickly Mr. Abramovitz’s career might have soared, but for the interference by Ms. Lee. But the law does recognize that the loss of a chance is a very real and compensable loss.”
Gilad testified that Abramovitz won a number of competitions during his time in Los Angeles and secured a position in the Santa Barbara Orchestra — two years later than he would have if he had had the scholarship, missing out on two years of potential salary.
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