Ramapo College will be honoring the life and death of Tyler Clementi, a former Ridgewood High School student in a musical performance to take place on April 23 at the Ridgewood High School.
Tyler Clementi was a talented musician and a freshman at Rutgers University when his life was tragically cut short by suicide in 2010, brought on by intensive cyber-bullying. His active participation in school and the community’s music scene continue to serve as inspiration to this day. In his name, the Tyler Clementi Foundation aims to curb all forms of both online and offline bullying around the country. The organization, founded shortly after Tyler’s death, promotes tolerance amongst student and youth, especially for the teen LGBT (lesbian., gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. Through a variety of educational partnerships, awareness programs, public dialogues, and research, the organization has received national news coverage for their work and story.
Tyler’s Suite is a culmination of that story: music that carries a message about respect and acceptance for all. The piece, after a successful tour through six major US cities, including a striking performance by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, has returned home to Ridgewood. The Seattle Times reviewed the piece as highly emotional, even causing members of the Seattle Men’s Chorus to drop out due to the emotionally difficult nature of the piece – and for good reasons too. The nine part performance weaves together story of Tyler’s life and death, turning the Clementi family’s grief into approachable art. The Clementi family has even contributed lyrics, offering the composers and lyricists a wealth of memories and personal stories to inspire music from. The movements also speaks to the struggle of LGBT youth, a topic close at heart to many of its performers and the Clementi Family. The piece was meant to humanize a singular victim beyond what the news reported, not just a suicidal teen but a human being with a whole life in front of them.
Supported by the Tyler Clementi Foundation, Tyler’s Suite is a new nine piece choral work dedicated to Tyler. It was written and composed by award-winning composers and lyricists, including John Adamo, John Bucchinno, Ann Hampton Callaway, Craig Carmella, John Corigliano, Stephen Flaherty, Nolan Gasser, Jake Heggie, Lance Horne, Pamela Stewart and Stephen Schwartz. The latter contributor is notable for his work on Broadway hits like Pippin and Wicked and has in the past won three Grammys and three Academy Awards for his various works. Tyler’s Suite, set to premier at the Westside Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood, will be performed by Ridgewood High School students as well as students from Ramapo College.
The premier of Tyler’s Suite will be attended by the Clementi family, who has travelled to every performance of the piece thus far. Also in attendance will be Paul Aronsohn, mayor of Ridgewood; Dr. Daniel Fishbein, superintendent of Ridgewood Schools; and other distinguished representatives from Ramapo College and the Tyler Clementi Foundation. Admission is to be free for all high school students, $5 for college students and a $20 suggested donation for adults. All proceeds will benefit the Tyler Clementi Foundation and help further its impact.
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