Exclusive: Orchestra commissions Ode to Gay

Exclusive: Orchestra commissions Ode to Gay


norman lebrecht

August 27, 2014

The young Australian composer Gordon Hamilton, whose work we have featured on this site, has been commissioned by the Queensland Symphony to write a prelude to Beethoven’s ninth symphony.

Taking his cue (and a theme) from the Ode to Joy, he has titled the new work ‘Ode to Gay’ and dedicated it to men who were persecuted for their sexuality or forced to conceal it.

Gordon writes: ‘The text I’ve settled on is The Trillion Souls by Andy West(a BBC reporter, and a really top guy!). In memory of the countless dead who could not marry, he addresses the trillions of gay people who’ve ever “lived and loved and longed alone”, inviting them to “join us here” and “to rise up and be known.’

Read more of Gordon’s thinking here.

gordon hamilton ghosts


  • RW2013 says:

    freeeeemdschäääämen !!!!!

    [the feeling of shame on someone else’s behalf; the feeling of shame for someone else who has done sth. embarrassing]
    to save you looking it up…

  • cabbagejuice says:

    Presumably this is the text (rather 19th century but not as half as good as Schiller, methinks):

    Come join us here, the trillion souls
    Who lived and loved and longed alone
    The decent men and decent women
    Whose passions slept unknown.

    We ask you now to grip our hands
    And rise up from the dirt
    Then shake the mud they threw at you
    And bury all your hurt.

    The pious priests are shadows now
    The bible leafs have curled
    Your sins were never yours to own
    They rotted with your world.

    We think of you, the shamefaced girls
    Who wept upon your beds
    And suffered years of wretched sex
    Whilst crying in your heads.

    And all the men, who loved in sin
    Though caring for their wives
    They hid their passion and hid the truth
    And hid for all their lives.

    The beaten son with broken hopes
    The daughter, shunned and damned
    The hopeless children ostracised
    When the family door was slammed.

    To all the cretins in your homes
    Who sniggered at our pride
    We throw your doctrines in a pyre
    A trillion bibles wide.

    The days when poofters had to hide
    Have gone now, they are dead
    The chance to love has been unlocked
    By the freedom that you dread.

    I’m thinking of our soldiers now
    The queers who called for change
    And marched their way past Parliament
    When no hope seemed in range.

    They stood alone. They stared them down
    Though damning words were hurled
    And marched and fought and held their ground
    As the rainbow flag unfurled.

    I could not love without their fight
    I would never have been free
    Without their war to let me live
    As the man I’m meant to be.

    So gather here, the trillion souls
    Who lived and loved and longed alone
    Who heard us calling from the light
    To rise up and be known.

    We watch them lift from poisoned earth
    And stare up to the stars
    The tortured souls, all born too soon
    Still carrying their scars.

    They mingle with the wedding guests
    And think about their lives
    Whilst watching in bewilderment
    Gay husbands and gay wives.

    Justice wrote our marriage vows
    And freedom is our host
    The congregation of lost lives
    Can help us raise a toast.

    To all those trillion wasted souls
    Who lived and loved and longed alone
    The decent men and decent women
    Whose passions slept unknown.

    The ancient man who died in tears
    A frightened queer, a fake
    The secret dyke whose heart was dead
    We marry for your sake.

    You may have lived through cruelty
    Been tortured, hurt and shamed
    But today the bigots and the dim
    Have had their voices tamed.

    We won’t forget your torture, nor
    The cruelty that you faced
    So with this ring, we promise you
    Your life was not a waste.

    You are with us, the trillion souls
    Who lived and loved and longed alone
    The decent men and decent women
    Whose passions slept unknown.

    Comment No.1 that I can’t help agreeing with: “Don’t give up the day job!”

  • cabbagejuice says:

    The author of the poem, or “ode” doesn’t seem to be particularly informed in matters historical, meaning there were options to women who didn’t like men enough to marry them rather than forcing on them “wretched sex”. (One can just imagine how this will be set to music!)
    Such women could remain spinsters and do what they liked on the side as many of them still do or join the clergy – the same with men.
    The odd part of this, even with the possibility of formal marriage that used to be a contract for the continuation of biological family lines, gays are not exactly beating down the doors to do so. In fact, longing for marriage is a quite recent phenomenon over the past two decades, when so many couples anyway simply live together, perhaps more than 50%. Changing the definition of marriage is the objective and with that all sorts of “unions” will apply and eventually get their way. http://theconversation.com/first-stats-show-no-stampede-down-the-aisle-for-same-sex-couples-30800
    “Similarly, there will be lesbian and gay couples who see marriage as an unattractive option that is grounded in outdated, even oppressive ideas around gender and sexuality. Some of these couples might prefer civil partnerships as an option. They might see it as a blank page, something they can invent for themselves that is free of the cultural and social baggage they associate with marriage.”

  • anonymus says:

    It is estimated by scientists, that about 100 billion people (homo sapiens) altogether ever populated this planet. For those believing in one of the backward religious cults that number would be even substantially less.
    Now assuming that about 3% of the population are homosexual, we are looking at about 3 billion gay “souls”. Not “trillions”.
    That man got his facts wrong, and not only that.

  • Gary Carpenter says:


  • Gary Carpenter says:

    ! – pressed send too early…

  • Martin says:

    A wave of shame, that is!