Musician Wins $260,000 In Lawsuit Against Ex-Girlfriend Who Sabotaged Career
In the spring of 2014, Eric Abramovitz got the opportunity of a lifetime.
He just didn't know it.
Abramovitz was the victim of a deception a Canadian judge called "despicable," as he granted Abramovitz $350,000 Canadian dollars (more than $260,000 U.S. dollars) in damages.
Abramovitz is a gifted Canadian clarinetist, who received national attention when he was still in his teens. As a student at McGill University, he applied for a spot — and a scholarship — at the prestigious Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles, where he would study under the famed clarinet teacher Yehuda Gilad.
Only two spots open up per year, and they're seen as launching pads for elite careers: competition is fierce. Abramovitz made it to the audition phase.
But in March 2014, he saw an email in his inbox telling him he'd been rejected.
It was heartbreaking. He went through "some really dark, sad, angry days," he told BuzzFeed. His girlfriend at the time, Jennifer Lee, another musician at McGill, consoled him.
But Abramovitz's despair was born out of a lie — and Lee's comforting words were, in retrospect, "really sick," he told the site.
He'd actually made it into the Colburn Conservatory.
He never saw his acceptance email, however, because Lee got to it first — and sabotaged him. Apparently, a Canadian judge concluded, she didn't want him to move from Montreal to California.
Lee did not respond to a court summons or defend herself in court; the Canadian National Post says it could not reach her and BuzzFeed said she did not respond to requests for comment.
The judge describes what seems to have happened:
Although he believed he hadn't made it into Colburn, Abramovitz was still determined to study under Gilad.
Months after the rejection — and after he and Lee had broken up — Abramovitz returned to California to audition for a different, less prestigious program. Gilad teaches in that program as well, although participants don't receive as much time with him as Colburn students do.
Abramovitz spoke to the National Post about the moment the wheels started turning:
"It was a simultaneous stab to the heart and back," Abramovitz told BuzzFeed.
Abramovitz sued for $300,000 Canadian dollars in damages. A judge in Ontario concluded that he lost at least that much, between the scholarship money he missed out on and the delay to his musical career. The judge added an additional $25,000 Canadian as punishment for "morally reprehensible conduct," and another $25,000 in damages for "the incompensable personal loss suffered by Mr Abramovitz by having a closely held personal dream snatched from him by a person he trusted."
Gilad, the clarinet maestro, wrote an affidavit supporting Abramovitz's claim. "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," he said.
While Abramovitz's musical career may have been delayed by the deception, it wasn't derailed.
After studying with Gilad, Abramovitz is now an associate principal/E flat clarinetist at the Toronto Symphony.
And, BuzzFeed notes, he's got a new girlfriend.
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