Review by Anne Akers; Founder/Editor in Chief, GLOW Beauty Health Wellness Magazine
Many are familiar with the untimely death of Tyler Clementi, a talented young musician who died by suicide after being bullied by his roommate during his early days at Rutgers.
Most likely, we are less familiar with the events that followed, including the formation of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, whose mission is to end all forms of online and offline bullying in schools, the workplace and in faith communities.
The story of Tyler Clementi has reverberated through the music and entertainment industry, inspiring composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked/Pippin) and Dr. Timothy Seelig, Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Man’s Choir, to collaborate on a 9-piece choral movement, which put to music the voices and experiences of Tyler and his family. Said Stephen Schwartz, “the story of Tyler reminds us that every life lost because of bullying and bigotry is a specific individual tragedy.”
First performed in 2014 by the San Francisco Gay Man’s Choir, Tyler’s Suite spans musical genres from classic to contemporary,Broadway and cabaret. Under the auspices of Distinguished Concerts Orchestra, the NY Premiere added female voices and drew upon the passionate and innovative musicality of 17 different choral groups, coming from as near as Queens, New York and as far as New Zealand. Thus, a group of almost 500 musicians came together in a virtuostic harmony that truly reached the skies and touched the heart.
Below are lyrics from just 2 of the 9 songs from Tyler’s Suite, which included
“I Love You More”, “Just a Boy”, “The Tyler Show”, “Brother Because of You” and a whimsical and upbeat composition of “The Unicyle Song”, celebrating not only Tyler’s skills on the violin but also a unique talent in mastering the Unicycle.
“If you feel I don’t belong because I hear a different song, your world is much too small It is not kind at all, not kind at all”…………………………………From I Have Songs You Haven’t Heard “Stop to help the one out on the edge, Carry those who can’t go on. For the greatest distance I can find is the one between your heart and mine. Though the bridge may seem narrow If we walk together toward tomorrow It is plenty, plenty wide”……………………………From The Narrow Bridge
As I managed to contain a whirlpool of emotions from my own memory bank, particularly at “I Love You More”, I looked around the audience and wondered what untold stories might be among those who chose to spend this Sunday together. Including mothers, fathers, couples, singles. probably some lonely souls and others with heavy hearts. However, whatever one’s disposition, the power of music to heal, to elevate, and to inspire was the message of the day and it was told, and felt, in this truly memorable musical experiences for performers and the public alike.
Finally, when discussions about this collaboration began almost one year ago, the decision was made by Distinguished Concerts to introduce the day’s program with Ola’s music for chorus, piano, and string with Ola at the piano. Among the most sought after performers in the choral world, his music is often described as cinematic and evocative, lush and harmonious. From his selection emerged the concept of the Phoenix, most often associated with spiritual growth and renewal, which was beautifully threaded into each of his soulful compositions.
In the voice of Tyler’s mother who concluded the day’s concert , the Tyler Clementi Foundation is a “call to action” for all those who honor the value of the human spirit and personal dignity. She issued a personal plea to stop and think for a moment before sending any message thru social media that tears down, and does not elevate another. In this hostile social environment, this is indeed a message for the ages.
The work is created under the leadership of Grammy, Academy and Tony Award winner/nominee and DCINY Composer-in-Residence, Stephen Schwartz and will be livestreamed from Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall.
A portion of all concert proceeds to benefit the Tyler Clementi Foundation, which seeks to prevent bullying as a way to honor the memory of Tyler Clementi’s tragic death.
Soloists will include acclaimed singer Nancy Nail along with a special introduction by Jane Clementi and other celebrity guests to be announced.
The program to also feature the music of DCINY Composer-in-Residence Ola Gjeilo conducted by DCINY Associate Artistic Director Dr. James Meaders.
New York, NY – On June 4 at 2PM, Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) will present Tyler’s Suite at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall in commemoration to the memory of Tyler Clementi, a young musician who died by suicide shortly after being bullied online by his roommate for being gay. Featured soloists include acclaimed singer Nancy Nail, known as one of the leading champions of the great American Songbook and recently voted as ‘Performer of the Year’ by BroadwayWorld. A special introduction will be given by Jane Clementi, Tyler’s mother, along with other celebrity guests throughout the afternoon. The performance will be livestreamed to DCINY’s Facebook page.
Tyler’s Suite is a new and lauded nine-piece choral movement created under the leadership of Grammy Award Winning Composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin) and Dr. Tim Seelig (Conductor/Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus) that explores the voices and experiences of Tyler and his family through the music of nine of today’s top composers: Mark Adamo, Ann Hampton Callaway, Craig Carnelia, John Corigliano, Stephen Flaherty, Nolan Gasser, Jake Heggie, Lance Horne, John Bucchino, and Stephen Schwartz. The libretto is Pamela Stewart. The performance will be conducted by Tim Seelig and will feature a number of vocal ensembles from the LGBTQ community. This concert will take place during NYC Pride.
The concert will be presented in partnership between DCINY and the Tyler Clementi Foundation, an organization created by the Clementi family which seeks to prevent bullying through inclusion, assertion of dignity and acceptance as a way to honor the memory of Tyler Clementi: a son, a brother, and a friend. A portion of all ticket proceeds will benefit the Tyler Clementi Foundation.
The night will also feature the music of Norwegian Composer Ola Gjeilo conducted by DCINY Associate Artistic Director, Dr. James Meaders including the New York Premiere of Gjeilo’s Dark Night of the Soul and Luminous Night of the Soul, as well as his well-known work, The Ground from his Sunrise Mass, a piece presented by DCINY during their 2016 season. Gjeilo will be accompanying the concert on piano as part of his DCINY composer-in-residence.
See a video of Ola Gjeilo as composer-in-residence at DCINY: https://www.facebook.com/DistinguishedConcertsInternationalNewYork/videos/10154159969731948/
DCINY PRESENTS TYLER’S SUITE
Sunday, June 4
David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center
Tim Seelig, Conductor Laureate
Stephen Schwartz, DCINY Composer-in-Residence
Nancy Nail, Voice
Jorge Avila, Violin
Carl Pantle, Piano
Featuring Distinguished Concerts Singers International
James Meaders, DCINY Associate Artistic Director and Conductor
Ola Gjeilo, DCINY Composer-in-Residence
Dark Night of the Soul
Luminous Night of the Soul
Featuring Distinguished Concerts Orchestra and Distinguished Concerts Singers International
Tickets Start at $20
Call Centercharge 212-721-6500 or visit Lincolncenter.org
Box Office: 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY
More information about the concert: http://www.dciny.org/concerts/256129-2/
Harmony: A Colorado chorale (Colorado, USA)
Four’s Company (New Zealand)
Sound About (North Carolina, USA)
Mallorca Gay Men’s Chorus (Spain)
Rainbow Chorus of Waterloo Wellington (Ontario, Canada)
Winnebago Lutheran Academy (Wisconsin, USA)
Rainbow Harmony Project (Winnipeg, Canada)
Fargo-Moorhead Gay Men’s Chorus (Minnesota, USA)
San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (California, USA)
Wellington High School (Florida, USA)
Jefferson City High School Jay Choir (Missouri, USA)
ABOUT TIM SEELIG
Tim Seelig is conductor, singer, teacher and motivational speaker. In addition to Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, he is also Conductor Emeritus of the Turtle Creek Chorale, which he conducted for 20 years, co-founded The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, and taught on the faculty at Southern Methodist University. Dr. Seelig holds four degrees, including the Doctor of Musical Arts and the Diploma from the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. He has authored seven books and DVDs on choral technique including best-sellers The Perfect Blend, and The Perfect Rehearsal as well as The Perfect Choral Workbook, Quick Choral Fixes, The Music Within and the brand new Language of Music. His recordings have been on Billboard Top Ten and iTunes Top Ten classical charts. The PBS documentary about the TCC received the national Emmy award for best documentary. Dr. Seelig has conducted around the world and regularly at Carnegie Hall for the last 25 years, as well as Lincoln Center and the Southbank Centre in London.
ABOUT STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Stephen Schwartz wrote the music and lyrics for the current Broadway hit Wicked, and has also contributed music and/or lyrics to Godspell, Pippin, The Magic Show, The Baker’s Wife, Working (which he also adapted and directed), Rags, and Children of Eden. He collaborated with Leonard Bernstein on the English texts for Bernstein’s Mass and wrote the title song for the play and movie Butterflies are Free. For children, he has written songs for two musicals, Captain Louie and My Son Pinocchio.
He has also worked in film, collaborating with Alan Menken on the songs for Disney’s Enchanted as well as the animated features Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and writing the songs for the DreamWorks animated feature The Prince of Egypt. His first opera, Seance on a Wet Afternoon, was produced at Opera Santa Barbara and New York City Opera. A book about his career, “Defying Gravity,” has been released by Applause Books. Mr. Schwartz has been inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and has been given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Awards include three Academy Awards, four Grammy Awards, and a tiny handful of tennis trophies.
ABOUT DISTINGUISHED CONCERTS INTERNATIONAL NEW YORK (DCINY)
Founded in 2007 by Iris Derke and Jonathan Griffith, with its first public concert presented in January of 2008, DCINY is a leading producer of dynamically-charged musical entertainment in renowned venues. With its unforgettable, world-class concert experiences, empowering educational programs, and global community of artists and audiences, DCINY changes lives through the power of performance. Commemorating their 10th Anniversary season in 2018, DCINY is proud to have presented life-changing performances for over 40,000 performers and 170,000 audience members since its inception.
In addition to being selected three times to the Inc. 5000 listing, DCINY also recently received national recognition with the 2014 and 2015 American Prize in conducting – professional orchestra division to DCINY Artistic Director Jonathan Griffith and the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra, and the 2015 American Prize in Arts Marketing to DCINY General Director Iris Derke and the DCINY Team.
As of 2016, over 35,000 performers representing 43 countries and all 50 US states have participated in a DCINY production. DCINY has catered to over 170,000 audience members since the inception of the company and has produced 17 world premieres and over 190 concerts (as of 12/31/2016).
ABOUT THE TYLER CLEMENTI FOUNDATION
The Tyler Clementi Foundation’s mission is to end online and offline bullying in schools, workplaces and faith communities. In 2010, Tyler’s death became a global news story, highlighting the impact and consequences of bullying while sparking dialogue amongst parents, teachers, and students across the country. The story also linked to broader issues impacting youth and families such as LGBT inequality, safety in schools, youth in crisis, higher education support systems, and cyberbullying.
Not only does the foundation continue to carry the important message about the suicide risk facing many LGBT youth, which can be three to seven times more at risk for suicide than other youth, but The Tyler Clementi Foundation recognizes that their message of standing up to bullying speaks universally across all cultures and identities.