Clarinet (Illustrative) .
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Eric Abramovitz had dreamed for years of one day studying with renowned Israeli-born clarinetist Yehuda Gilad.
But when he applied for a spot under Gilad at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles in late 2013, he was rejected. Or so he thought.
Five years later, a Canadian court has awarded Abramovitz 375,000 Canadian dollars in damages from the person who committed fraud and crushed his dreams: his then-girlfriend, Jennifer Lee.
In 2014, Abramovitz was actually accepted to study with Gilad and offered a full scholarship. But Lee – fearing Abramovitz would leave her behind in Montreal – intercepted the email, deleted it, and sent a message in her boyfriend’s name declining the position. She then sent a fake email to Abramovitz in Gilad’s name saying he had been rejected.
The ruling in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice last week noted that Gilad is “an internationally renowned clarinet pedagogue...recognized as one of the best clarinet teachers in the world, and aspiring clarinetists from all corners of the globe compete for the rare opportunity of studying with him.”
Abramovitz had no idea what his girlfriend had done until 2016, when he took another shot at studying with his idol, trying out for a program at the University of South Carolina under Gilad. The Israeli clarinet player was confused why Abramovitz would return after having turned him down in the past, and the story began to unravel.
Abramovitz was accepted to that program, but Gilad – in testimony provided to the court – noted that the young clarinetist was still at a disadvantage as a result of Lee’s behavior.
“I am certain that had Eric not been robbed of his opportunity to study with me two years earlier, he could already have won an audition and been commanding [a] respectable salary two years earlier,” Gilad said. “I am very frustrated that a highly talented musician like Eric was the victim of such an unthinkable, immoral act that delayed his progress and advancement as an up-and-coming young musician and delayed his embarking on a most promising career.”
The court awarded Abramovitz the amount he claimed in the lawsuit – 300,000 Canadian dollars – and an additional 75,000 in damages and costs.
“This was despicable conduct by Ms. Lee,” wrote Judge David L. Corbett in the court ruling. “This award expresses this court’s revulsion at what Ms. Lee has done.”