A Canadian clarinetist was selected for a highly competitive music scholarship but his life changed when his girlfriend turned down the opportunity on his behalf
Eric AbramovitzCredit: Courtesy Eric Abramovitz
Credit: Courtesy Eric Abramovitz

A Canadian clarinetist was selected for a highly competitive music scholarship in Los Angeles but his life changed when his girlfriend turned down the opportunity without him knowing.

Eric Abramovitz was one of the top clarinetists in Canada when he applied for a two-year scholarship at the Colburn Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles. The scholarship would have included tuition, room and board as well as money for food and expenses and was worth about $50,000, according to the Montreal Gazette.

Abramovitz auditioned for Yehuda Gilad, a prestigious clarinetist at the conservatory, and was one of just two students chosen to study under him – which would have almost guaranteed him a high paying seat on almost any symphony in the country.

Gilad sent Abramovitz an email to personally to tell him the good news, but as the court heard, he never received it as his live-in girlfriend at the time, Jennifer Lee, deleted it without his knowledge.

Lee posed as her boyfriend, setting up a fake email address and refusing the offer. She then sent an email pretending to be her boyfriend’s potential mentor saying he hadn’t received a scholarship at the conservatory, according to the publication.

Instead, she claimed the University of Southern California had offered him a $5,000 scholarship, which at the time, he could not afford to take as he needed a full ride, the Montreal Gazette reported.

Without the scholarship he hoped for, Abramovitz stayed at McGill University in Canada, where his girlfriend was also enrolled.

After completing his studies, Abramovitz opted to delay embarking on his career to do a two-year extension program at the University of Southern California, where Gilad taught part-time, the outlet reported. This was not on scholarship and cost the young musician $50,000.

He sued Lee two years after she had deleted the email and asked for $300,000 in general damages. Since losing his full scholarship at Colburn he has worked at the Santa Barbara Orchestra and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

A Canadian judge, Ontario Superior Court David L. Corbett added an additional $50,000 to the musician’s damages and ruled against Lee for “her despicable interference in Mr. Abramovitz’s career,” according to the Montreal Gazette.

“I accept and find that Mr. Abramovitz lost a unique and prestigious education opportunity, one that would have advanced his career as a clarinetist,” Corbett wrote in his ruling, according to the outlet. “Imagine how his life would have been different if he had studied for two years under Mr. Gilad, and earned his teacher’s respect and support, requires more speculation than the law permits.”

“I cannot speculate as to how high and how quickly Mr. Abramovitz’s career might have soared, but for the interference by Ms. Lee,” he continued.

“But the law does recognize that the loss of a chance is a very real and compensable loss,” Corbett added.

According to the Montreal Gazette, Lee never filed a notice of intent to defend herself nor did she respond to Abramovitz’s lawsuit against her.

The outlet reported Gilad also commented on the case, writing about his frustration that Abramovitz had been “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.”