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Published: Monday, 4/18/2005

Musician's work seeks absolution for friend

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

I think of him every passing day

Knowing you have not turned away

I commend him to you

Forgive him

- From "A Requiem of Forgiveness''

by Nicolas De La Torre

BOWLING GREEN - Derek Sidle was 16 years old when he came home from baseball practice one spring afternoon last April and took his life.

His death left family, friends, and classmates at Bowling Green High School stunned, heartbroken, and struggling to make sense of something that seemed so senseless.

One of those friends, Nicolas De La Torre, found his own way of dealing with Derek's unexpected and unexplained suicide. The talented high school musician spent the better part of the last year composing a 10-minute requiem dedicated to the young man he met when the two attended St. Aloysius School.

The requiem will be performed by an orchestra and choir that Nick will conduct during a prayer service and celebration of Derek's life at Bowling Green Church of the Nazarene at 7 p.m. April 26.

It is the one-year anniversary of Derek's death.

"Part of the reason I did this is his family would've had nothing to look forward to. It would've been just a really, really sad day for them,'' the 17-year-old said. "This gives them something to look forward to instead of dreading that day.''

Called "The Requiem of Forgiveness,'' the arrangement he composed for 13 instruments is in the form of a prayer, Nick explained. In it, he asks God to forgive Derek for taking his life and to welcome him into heaven.

"A couple parts are kind of intense. I hope it's not too much but it's what I felt needed to be there,'' Nick said. "And parts of it are just really, really pretty. I think it's a good balance.''

Derek's parents, Steve and Daun Sidle, have not yet heard the requiem - Nick wants it to be performed for the first time that night - but Mrs. Sidle said she was touched when she learned about the project a few months ago from Nick's mother.

"I thought it was awesome to have Nick feel that strongly about Derek,'' she said.

Nick, who plays the piano and guitar, has no idea how many hours he's put into the project though he's worked on it for nearly 10 months.

"We're talking about nights staying up until three or four in the morning, so it's probably uncountable,'' he said.

Jim Brown, long-time director of choral music at BGHS, said he has never had a student or known anyone as young as Nick who put together an arrangement of this magnitude. Nick is a member of the school's concert choir and Madrigals singing group.

"I think what he's done is really pretty amazing,'' Mr. Brown said. " He is really a very talented person. He has a great singing voice. He just can't keep away from music.''

Mr. Brown said he plans to attend the prayer service, as will most choir members and no doubt many other students and community members.

Mrs. Sidle has been compiling photographs of Derek for a video presentation that will be shown at the prayer service. She said he loved hockey and baseball and being with friends.

"In every picture, he is smiling,'' she said. "He was so happy.''

It's been a difficult year to say the least for the Sidles, who have a younger son and daughter.

Mrs. Sidle said that after Derek died, she read every word of the detective's reports, every statement Derek's classmates made to investigators. She's gone over his life and that day and the days leading up to it. She has searched her mind and soul for answers but knows she may never find them.

She misses her tall and handsome son who loved to joke around and still asked her to tuck him into bed once in a while.

"It doesn't go away and I know it never will,'' she said. "People think, 'Oh you have two other kids' and they do keep us busy, but no one can replace Derek. He was my firstborn.''

Mrs. Sidle said she hopes the prayer service will offer family and friends the opportunity to celebrate Derek's life, something that was unthinkable when they buried him a year ago.

"I think it's going to help,'' she said. "With suicide, no one really talks about it. It kind of gets brushed under the rug. This is going to be tribute to Derek because he was a good kid. It's not just kids who are into drugs or depressed or abused who do this.''



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