He was a gifted Canadian clarinetist who had the chance to study under a renowned professor in Los Angeles — all expenses paid. But his girlfriend didn’t want him to leave Canada.
So she logged onto his email account, intercepted his acceptance and turned down the offer, court records show. Then she sent him a fake rejection from the prestigious music program, according to the lawsuit he filed in Ontario.
Now, a judge has ordered her to pay her ex 375,000 Canadian dollars in damages and legal fees.
“This was despicable conduct,” the judge, D.L. Corbett, wrote in a judgment issued this week.
The clarinetist, Eric Abramovitz, had been dating Jennifer Lee, a fellow music student, for only a few months when he applied to the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles in 2013, court records show.
Mr. Abramovitz hoped to study under Yehuda Gilad, a distinguished clarinet professor who accepts just one or two students a year, according to the lawsuit. In recent years, 80 percent of the clarinet positions in North American orchestras were filled by Mr. Gilad’s students, the professor testified in court documents.
It was also a good financial deal: Every Colburn student receives a full-ride scholarship, including tuition, room and board, as well as a living stipend for meals, court records show.
Mr. Abramovitz, who had studied clarinet since he was 7, dreamed of studying with the famous professor at a school that he could afford. But his application was rejected — or so he thought.
So he stayed in Canada for school and completed his bachelor’s degree at McGill University in Montreal, his lawsuit says. At some point, he and Ms. Lee broke up.
But Mr. Abramovitz didn’t give up on his dream. In 2016, he traveled to California to audition a second time with Professor Gilad, who was confused: Hadn’t this student already turned down the opportunity to work with him?
That’s when the story began to unravel.
Mr. Abramovitz asked Mr. Gilad about the rejection email he had received, from “giladyehuda09” on a Gmail account. Mr. Gilad told him that was not his email address.
Mr. Abramovitz then filed a police report, court records show.
“I was both shocked and furious that someone had tried to impersonate me,” Mr. Gilad wrote in an affidavit. “I had never seen anything like this.”
In fact, court records show, Ms. Lee was the one who sent Mr. Abramovitz the rejection letter from the made-up email address. The judge found that she also impersonated her boyfriend in an email turning down the school’s offer to study with Mr. Gilad.
Ms. Lee did not respond to the lawsuit and had no lawyer listed in the court file. She could not be located or reached for comment on Friday.
In 2016, after his re-audition, Mr. Abramovitz got another chance to follow his dream. He began studying at the University of Southern California, where Professor Gilad also teaches.
The professor testified in court documents that Mr. Abramovitz made great progress studying under him, but missed out on other opportunities and delayed his professional career by two years.
“I am very frustrated that a highly talented musician like Eric was the victim of such an unthinkable, immoral act,” Mr. Gilad wrote.
The judge agreed, awarding Mr. Abramovitz 300,000 Canadian dollars for the value of the lost scholarship and income, as well as an additional $75,000 for legal fees and compensation for having a “dream snatched from him by a person he trusted.”
It’s unclear if Mr. Abramovitz will be able to recover any money from his ex, but he already has a good gig of his own. After playing with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Abramovitz got a new job this year.
It will take him back home to Canada, to play clarinet for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
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