ABILENE – Some people enjoy going to the golf course to relax. Some enjoy curling up with a good book. Some enjoy binging a TV show on a streaming service.

For Abilene High assistant choral director Remel Derrick, relaxation comes when he puts pen to paper and composes music.

In fact, Derrick is now a published composer with Walton Music, one of the world’s leading choral music publishers. In the past year, Remel has published two choral works with Walton: “Hold on Just a Little While Longer” for mixed choir and “Rest” for tenor/bass choir.

Derrick – in his sixth year as the assistant director at Abilene High School – believes that while he enjoys singing, he has found his niche as a composter.

I have always enjoyed singing, specifically at church, or in my high school choir,” he said. “However, as I started to compose, it felt most like home, as if this was what I was meant to do all along. I would say that I am a composer who sings. Being a choral director help me to become a better composer, because I am inspired by my students every day.”

And Derrick has found that the relationship between composter and performer must be one where they find themselves in sync to make beautiful music.

“I believe that the composer sets the performer up for success, and then the performer takes what the composer has written, and then interprets it for the world to hear,” Derrick said. “The relationship between composer and performer is essential.”

Derrick’s work has found its way around the county with university choirs from Oregon, Indiana and North Carolina and beyond performing his creations.

“I am most proud of the fact the these collegiate choirs – Portland State (Oregon) University, Purdue (Ind.) Varsity Glee Club, Meredith College (N.C), just to name a few choirs who have performed my music – think my compositions worthy enough to perform,” he said. “I will always be grateful for those performances.”

This semester, three Abilene choral ensembles have performed Remel’s “Hold On Just a Little While Longer”: Chorus Abilene (community choir), the Abilene Chamber Singers (professional choir), and the Abilene Christian University A Cappella Chorus (university choir). At the beginning of November, ACU Director of Choral Activities, Dr. Jefferey Goolsby, conducted the Texas Music Educators’ Association (TMEA) Region 3 All-Region Mixed Choir, and one of the selections for the concert was “Hold On Just a Little While Longer” with another director telling Goolsby it was the best song of the concert.

In June 2022, Remel will be the guest artist at the ACU All-State Choir camp. He is currently working on a new commissioned piece that will premiere at the choir camp.