The Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, Harvard Glee Club, and Radcliffe Choral Society, with Grammy® Award-winning conductor and composer Craig Hella Johnson, present the East Coast premiere of Considering Matthew Shepard, a “fusion-oratorio” that tells the story of the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard and its aftermath.
Sanders Theatre – Memorial Hall
8pm | Saturday, April 2
Students $10 (SEF eligible) | General starting at $20
In October 1998, a shocking hate crime was committed against Matthew Shepard, who was brutally beaten and left tied to a fence to die. Shepard’s story haunted Johnson for years and finally impelled him to compose a musical response to this tragedy. “The entire [compositional] process has been about asking questions, particularly this enduring question of whether or not love itself is part of our essential nature, even amidst the many painful and confounding realities of our existence,” said Johnson.
Conceived as a 21st-century rendering of the oratorio-passion, Johnson’s groundbreaking work incorporates a variety of musical styles and texts by Lesléa Newman, Hafiz, Hildegard von Bingen, the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, W.S. Mervin, Blake, Rumi, and Dante, among others. After its recent world premiere in Austin, Texas, critics, audience members, professional composers and conductors alike hailed the work as one of the most significant additions to American choral repertory this century.
Poet and lyricist Lesléa Newman (author of Heather Has Two Mommies, and October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard among other works) will join Jason Marsden (AB, ‘94), Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, Craig Hella Johnson, and Harvard’s Director of Choral Activities, Andrew Clark, for a post-concert conversation with the audience. Professor Michael McGaghie (AB, ‘01) Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Macalester College will give a pre-concert talk at 7pm. This project is sponsored by The Open Gate: A Fund for LGBT Life at Harvard.
“To hear words that came out of my pen set to music so beautifully and sung in such magnificent voices was one of the high points of my 40-year writing career. “Considering Matthew Shepard” is a powerful musical journey that has the potential to change the life of anyone lucky enough to experience it. It is called a “passion” for a reason. Audiences have responded with great passion and leave the theatre inspired to make the world a better place for the LGBTQ community. Matthew Shepard’s passion was social justice. We can all take action to honor his memory by making the world a safer place for all.” -- Lesléa Newman, author October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard