Robert Samels liked to put himself in his music. His opera "PILATVS," which he wrote about the life of Pontius Pilate, was described as "witty," "genius" and "enjoyable" -- all traits his friends attribute to him. Even in his notes in the margin, friends noticed how he poured himself into his work. "I was looking through the score," said senior Nicole Beemsterboer, a close friend of his, "and towards the end he had underlined the lyrics, stolen from Walt Whitman: 'Waste your days inventing ways to be remembered before you rot in the ground.' "I thought, 'What a fitting tribute.'" Hundreds of friends gathered Wednesday night at the Buskirk Chumley Theater to provide another "fitting tribute" to Samels, a graduate student in the Jacobs School of Music who was killed in a plane crash May 20.