Photography by Keith Saunders
In 1998 Matthew Shepard, a first-year college student in Wyoming, was kidnapped, beaten and left to die. This brutal anti-gay hate crime inspired anguish and outrage. Nearly 20 years later it inspired composer Craig Hella Johnson to contemplate suffering, death and the flame of love and led him on a challenging creative journey. “In composing Considering Matthew Shepard,” he says, “I wanted to create, within a musical framework, a space for reflection, consideration and unity around his life and legacy.”
The result is a fusion-oratorio, stylistically eclectic music that moves between Lutheran hymnody, chant, blues, cowboy songs and Broadway as it captures the fullness of Matthew’s life and the legacy of his death. In the background are the Passion settings of JS Bach – offering musical comfort as their listeners reflect on a story of intense suffering. And Considering Matthew Shepard begins with Bach: the serene sounds of the first prelude from the Well-Tempered Clavier (the music that underpins Gounod’s Ave Maria).
Considering Matthew Shepard will be performed by our VOX choir –some of its members the same age as Matthew himself when he died – in a semi-staged presentation. Join us at City Recital Hall for this musical memorial that reverberates with hope and serenity.
“…this modern-day Passion will move many listeners to tears even as it reaches beyond tragedy to peace, understanding and
– The Chicago Tribune
Presented by Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and City Recital Hall.
Thursday 20 February, 7:30pm
City Recital Hall
Craig Hella JOHNSON Considering Matthew Shepard
Elizabeth Scott conductor
Shaun Rennie director
Trent Suidgeest, lighting designer
Jeremy Allen, designer
VOX with soloists from the choir
Sydney Philharmonia Ensemble