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Honoring the Memory of Tyler Clementi

Jane Clementi speaks to The Advocate about this Saturday’s musical tribute to her son. By Gina Vivinetto for The Advocate – February 27 2015

It’s been four and a half years since the world mourned the death of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers College freshman who took his own life after being cyberbullied during his first few weeks at college.

This Saturday in Los Angeles, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and all-male string quartet Well-Strung, in partnership with the Tyler Clementi Foundation, unite to pay tribute to Clementi with a one-night only performance of Tyler’s Suite, an eight-movement choral piece that takes listeners on a journey through Clementi’s brief life. Saturday’s show marks the second stop in a six-city tour of the work, which debuted last year in San Francisco.

The project came together under the musical leadership of Broadway giant Stephen Schwartz, composer and lyricist behind the smash hits Wicked and Pippin. Schwartz selected the work’s composers and had a hand in every step of its development. He also composed one of the movements. With its message of hope and dignity for LGBT youth, Tyler’s Suite moves beyond the headlines-only perspective of Clementi’s story to get to who he really was. Lyricist Pamela Stewart spent time with Clementi’s family to get a fuller picture.

Clementi’s mother, Jane, thinks Tyler’s Suite captures her son’s big personality beautifully. “What’s good is there are so many different parts to the pieces and different parts bring up different emotions and memories for me, and that reminds me of Tyler because he was filled with lots of different sides to him,” Jane says by telephone from her home in New Jersey. “He was so passionate about different things and so compassionate, very thoughtful, and yet he had a great sense of humor.”

Jane and her oldest son, James, who is also gay, will be at Saturday’s concert.

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