Gay Rights Activist, Composer to Premiere 'Bullycide'

8.8.2013

By Samantha Henderson

The piano sextet is dedicated to and inspired by Tyler Clementi and other teens who committed suicide in response to bullying.

In light of the recent deaths of Tyler Clementi, Billy Lucas, Asher Brown, Zach Harrington, and Seth Walsh, all due to homophobic bullying, gay rights activist and composer David Del Tredici has completed a piece called "Bullycide" to be performed on August 16 at the La Jolla Music Society’s SummerFest in La Jolla, Calif.

Del Tredici's original inspiration was the tragic story of violinist and Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, but as he talked to more people, he found out how prevalent "bullycide"—suicide caused by bullying—had become, and he decided to dedicate the piece to four more teens.

He commented on his initial reaction to the term: "At that moment, an arrow seemed to pierce my own heart and I was flooded with painful memories of bullying in grammar and high school. I remembered that awful feeling of being treated as a ‘defective’ person. I remembered the physical attacks bullies dished out to me in class whenever a teacher turned away—often in the form of spitballs lobbed at the back of my skull. And then I heard somewhere or read in the newspaper the word ‘bullycide’. I thought the term perfectly encapsulated this new phenomenon: a teenager’s suicide due to bullying. With such stimulation, I could feel a new piece stirring and I set to composing, finding it unnecessary this time to wait for inspiration from a poet’s text."

The 30-minute piece is not Del Tredici's first foray into compositions focused on gay rights. Previous works include "Gay Life," "S/M Ballade," "Queer Hosannas," and "Wondrous the Merge." He also set Jaime Manrique’s poem, "Matthew Shepard," to music.

Tickets can still be purchased here

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