Lewis, Derri Joseph: Something Exciting
Among the brightest of emerging creative voices in music, Derri Joseph Lewis is a composer whose work engages with contemporary subjects, notably issues of LGBTQIA+ identity. Dedicated to the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, Something Exciting is a vivid autobiographical testimony to the complex experience of coming out to parents. Derri’s own words from an actual WhatsApp text to his father are set to uplifting music conveying the unique sense of affirmation and anxiety of that moment. Slow-moving iterations of the message are announced against ecstatic foreground ostinati, suggesting both the personal memory of time passing slowly and quickly simultaneously, and a universal theme, that coming out is not just a single occasion, but rather ‘a never-ending series of small – yet significant – conversations’. Thrilling to sing, challenging in its fusion of contemporary art and life, Something Exciting will resonate deeply with singers and audiences, with a lasting impact beyond the irrepressible energy and precision of the notes themselves.
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I couldn’t have made this piece without the collaboration of the wonderful singers of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain when I was one of the four participants in the 2021 NYCGB’s Young Composers Scheme. We spoke about how coming out as LGBTQIA+ to others isn’t just a single occasion, but rather a never-ending series of small – yet significant – conversations.
I scrolled way back on my phone to 2017, to the day when I came out to my dad. I was too scared to tell him in person, so instead I wrote to him via WhatsApp:
…I have something exciting to tell you.
I didn’t know how to say it, but thought I should say…
This was a moment both of elation and nervousness.
Something Exciting is an explosion of the two feelings, ecstatic repetitions giving way to quieter echoes, and creating that strange, adrenaline-induced feeling of time passing both slowly and quickly simultaneously.
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