Earlier this month, I wrote to several of the chorus members up in San Francisco asking them if they could write a little paragraph or even just a sentence about what singing the piece meant to them, or perhaps just share a story of something that happened. I did this partly because I couldn't be there and I wanted to live it as much through them as possible.
But, also, as we finish up the formal score and begin to offer it to other choruses, I'm thinking these quotes could be a part of the package.
And then I get this from Stephen Camarota:
I had an instant connection to “Gabi’s Song.” The melody, the words, the arrangement, all of it called to me in a subtle, yet definitive way. After reading the whole history of the song, about Bill and his parents, I kept thinking about what he might have been like now so many years later. We would be about the same age now. In a way I was Bill if he lived on. That was a great responsibility.Here are "Bill's parents," Gabi and Alec, backstage with the chorus just before the concert. Interwoven are some shots of Stephen singing "Gabi's Song."
About a week before I auditioned for the song, I was verbally accosted by a disgruntled guy at the gym. This guy got up in my face and called me a “fag” for being in his space and proceeded to threaten and try to scare me. I was so caught off guard that I hardly responded to him at all.
I was shocked at how no one around me stopped to help me in any way.
In the end my calm demeanor only irritated the guy so much that he fled in rage. I felt triumphant in how I responded to him. Still I found myself somewhat afraid for a few days after the incident, and thinking of things I should have said. To top it off I felt a sense of self hate over my own feelings of fear. I wanted to know why this happened to me; why I felt so humiliated.
I ultimately went back to the gym with full confidence that I would not let this stop me from living my life. I further vowed to step up and help anyone I witnessed being treated the way I was that night.
Even through all of that, I thought how my experience was only a small fraction of what Bill went through, and maybe that’s why I had that experience- to help me feel what it is like for others who are mistreated simply for who they are. Before each show I would meditate alone and prepare for the song with all of these things in my mind.
At the beginning of our run Rey Faustino, the understudy for the song, gave me a printed picture of Bill with some of the excerpts from online about him. I kept that picture in inside my tux jacket against my heart for every show.
I would begin to sing and see all of the moved faces, including his parents at Davies Symphony Hall, and felt this great cathartic oneness with everyone within the sound of my voice. By the end of the song, I would see Bill at the back of the house leaning on one leg and smiling at me, and then he would walk off at peace.
Singing “Gabi’s song” was more then an honor for me, it was my duty for all who feel hopeless, worthless and lone- and it was truly the high point of my life
You can hear the whole song if you get the CD, Creating Harmony.