Considering Matthew Shepard

By Craig Hella Johnson

Friday, June 3 • 7:30 pm
Myers Park United Methodist Church

1501 Queens Rd., Charlotte

Sunday, June 5 • 7:30 pm
Christ Church Charlotte

1412 Providence Rd., CharlotteAll tickets are general admission

Adults: $30 + tax (online and at the door)
Pay only the ticket price and tax online. No additional credit card fees!

Students: $10 (With ID, available at the door only.)

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On October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard—a gay student at the University of Wyoming—was beaten by two men, tied to a fence and deserted. It took nearly 18 hours until he was rescued and taken to a hospital. Five days later, he died. Shepard was 21. 
Two days after Shepard died, President Bill Clinton addressed a Washington D.C. vigil attended by thousands, saying, “In our shock and grief one thing must remain clear: Hate and prejudice are not American values.” Eleven years later, President Barack Obama signed “The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act” into law.

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the tragic event, composer Craig Hella Johnson—who is also the founding artistic director of the acclaimed Austin, Texas-based choral group, Conspirare—created Considering Matthew Shepard. It is his first concert-length work.

The three-part "fusion oratorio" incorporates a variety of musical styles with texts by such poets as Hildegard of Bingen, Lesléa Newman, and Michael Dennis Browne, as well as passages from Matthew Shepard’s personal journal, interviews with his parents, and newspaper reports.

Audiences describe the work as “brilliant,” “powerful,” “innovative,” “dazzling,” and “gripping.”

“Matt Shepard and his story have led me on an inspiring, challenging and deeply meaningful journey that I continue to this day. In composing  Considering Matthew Shepard,  I wanted to create, within a musical framework, a space for reflection, consideration and unity around his life and legacy.” – Craig Hella Johnson

"Considering Matthew Shepard sweeps the listener through many moods: horror, heartbreak, acceptance of pain, spiritual contemplation and finally uplift. Charlotte Master Chorale explored all of them with intelligence and a deep emotional understanding."

Lawrence Toppman,
of the Charlotte Observer

Support the Matthew Shepard Foundation

In a diverse approach to Erase Hate, the Matthew Shepard Foundation focuses its efforts ranging anywhere from theater stages and local law enforcement agencies, to online resource centers and embassies around the world.

Click here to learn more. >

What critics say about Considering Matthew Shepard

"... Considering Matthew Shepard emerged as a portrait of our times and a testament to the nature of hate. All of which easily could have led Johnson to pen a dark and despairing screed. Instead, he did quite the opposite, evoking the terror of this event early on but transcending it with page after page of hope, yearning and thanks. This may seem incongruous – unless you were there.”
– Chicago Tribune
"....[Considering Matthew Shepard] demonstrates music’s capacity to 
 encompass, transform and 
 transcend tragedy...it leads us from horror and grief to a higher understanding of the human condition, enabling us to endure."
– Washington Post
"...it has the richness, depth and complexity to compel repeated hearing, and the power to get you the first time out."
– The Bay Area Reporter