By Alison Baumgartner
On October 7, nearly twenty years after the death of Matthew Shepard, the University of Wyoming student who was beaten and tortured for being gay, the Lincoln Center and Colorado State University are proud to present Considering Matthew Shepard. This cathartic oratorio created in response to the brutal act that shook the nation’s conscience features projected media, a chamber orchestra and is performed by the Grammy-winning Conspirare.
“I remember exactly where I was the moment I heard the name Matthew Shepard. I remember how my body felt,” says Craig Hella Johnson, director of the Conspirare and composer of Considering Matthew Shepard. “I’ve been thinking and feeling this story since that moment in October 1998.”
Conspirare’s Considering Matthew Shepard engages with Shepard in a way that has never been done before. It uses, in part, his actual diaries as lyrical inspiration in order to show that he was a human being — not a poster or a symbol, but a young man from Wyoming looking toward an unknown future.
“It’s a universal story,” says Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard’s mother. “Everyone can identify with what happened to Matt, his family, or the people trying to change the world in Matt’s name. And [Considering Matthew Shepard] is a beautiful way to do it because it tells Matt’s story in a way that is deeply, deeply personal and spiritual. It’s a unique opportunity for people to get to know Matt in a different way.”
“There is something about Matt’s story that transmits such a power,” says Johnson, “something incredibly potent that is an invitation for us to discover our better selves and our fuller selves.”
Though much has changed in the world over the last twenty years, Matthew Shepard’s story still represents many others’ stories around the world. Come see it told in an innovative and emotional way that you always want to remember.
Don’t miss the show that the Washington Post declares, “Powerfully cathartic, it leads us from horror and grief to a higher understanding of the human condition, enabling us to endure.”
Conspirare’s Considering Matthew Shepard will be at the UCA’s Griffin Concert Hall on October 7. Seats from $28 at LCtix.com.