To commemorate alumnus Derek Abraham’s life and his contributions, the Music Department is hosting a concert endowing a scholarship and commissioning a piece to be written in his memory.
Derek passed away last summer shortly after his graduation in a kite-boarding accident in Santa Cruz. He was an influential member of both the instrumental and choral music programs at the school. He was involved in Main Street Singers, Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Jazz Band and marching band.
According to Choral Music Director Mark Shaull, the Choral Music Department is holding a concert on Sunday, March 9 at the Palo Alto Methodist Church to “honor Derek’s life.”
The repertoire consists of music that is often used in memoriam as well as music Shaull believes Derek would have enjoyed singing. Concert Choir will also sing Maurice Durufle’s “Requiem,” accompanied by a professional orchestra.
Additionally, the Instrumental Music Department is honoring Derek with a scholarship of funds donated in Derek’s name. According to Instrumental Music Director Ted Ferrucci, Derek’s family set up the fund so that people could make donations for instrumental and choral music.
The $1,000 instrumental music scholarship will be given on the basis of musicianship and contribution to the community, rather than academics alone. It is open to any senior in the Instrumental Music Department who has been involved all four years of high school.
The scholarship was announced during the annual Band Night and the application process begins in March. Ferrucci, along with a selection committee including Derek’s parents, will choose the student who will receive the scholarship by May.
“It is my hope that the students involved in this program … and students for many years to come learn from Derek’s example and carry this torch of respect for tradition and the reputation of excellence we have worked so hard to achieve,” Ferrucci said in the introduction to the Derek Abraham scholarship.
According to junior Mo McBirney, announcing the scholarship during the concert will help the “next generation” of music students remember Derek’s legacy.
At Band Night, Students from Egan played two pieces with the Wind Ensemble. The first was “Hymnsong for Phillip Bliss,” dedicated to Derek, which Ferrucci felt was “very appropriate under the circumstances.”
“[The lyrics represent] the healing process to tragedy,” Ferrucci said. “We followed with [music from] ‘The Incredibles,’ which is very Derek.”
Ferrucci has asked Aaron Lington, Director of Jazz Studies at San Jose State, to write a piece in Derek’s honor for the Jazz Band.
A group of families close to Derek are also having a composer write a piece for Derek. It will feature strings and a solo trumpet which Derek played in band.
“He would be so surprised,” senior Charles Olaires said. “He’s the type of person who wouldn’t expect things to be done for him.”