A Journey from Grief to Higher Understanding

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.

Mortified: A Hilarious Romp into the Heart of Teen Angst

Years after high school, if you found a love letter that you wrote and never sent, you might laugh a little, blush a little and then be quick to hide it back away.  Not Dave Nadelberg, the creator of  Mortified.  “When I found an old love letter, I immediately laughed and thought ‘I need to share this with my friends’,” says Nadelberg. “Then I thought, it would be fun to share it with strangers.”

Since Nadelberg decided to share his own mortifying, soul-bearing prose, Mortified has expanded from a stage show to a movie, a series on the Sundance channel produced by Nick Kroll, a show on Netflix, several books and a podcast. It was even featured on This American Life.

Featuring adults sharing their most embarrassing childhood diaries, letters, poems and artwork, this is a hilarious romp into the heart of teen angst.  Whether it’s hideous poetry, horrendous songs or bumbling diaries about popstar obsessions, Mortified invites you to come in, sit down and be rocketed into a past that is awkward, poignant and strange — all the things that teenage life tends to be. Only, you get to do it from the safety and distance of knowing that both you and the performers survived.

That’s what makes Mortified so unique. It’s not just a storyteller sharing their past through the lens of being older and wiser. “This is the literal actual thoughts of living in the moment and not being aware that you were going to grow up and become a forty-five-year-old accountant racing to get your kid to soccer practice,” says Nadelberg.

The show is more than just a foray into our deepest thoughts during puberty. It’s an uplifting experience that reminds that we were all freaks, we were all fragile, and all of us survived.

For the Fort Collins Lincoln Center show, Mortified is pulling out all the stops. “What I’m really excited about is not just that it’s our first show in Fort Collins, but these are all of our favorite performers and we’re flying them in from all over the nation,” says Nadelberg. “We’ve got over a decade of past show material to pull from.”

Already a big fan of the show? “Don’t worry, there will be plenty of new material that they haven’t seen or heard before,” says Nadelberg.

The premiere of Mortified’s Allstars of Angst will be at the Fort Collins Lincoln Center on October 26. Seats from $15 at LCtix.com.

Say Hello to Offbeat Cello

If you think you are in for a straight-laced classical cello performance when Portland Cello Project comes to the Fort Collins Lincoln Center on October 12, think again. From symphony halls to rock clubs, the Portland Cello Project has been hailed as a “jolt of energy” by Spin Magazine, and “genre-crossing” by MTV.

“We play music you ordinarily wouldn’t hear on cellos,” says Doug Jenkins, artistic director and founding member of Portland Cello Project. “We build a bridge to the community with our music instead of being in an ivory tower.”

Making cello music accessible is why Portland Cello chose to take on Radiohead’s critically-acclaimed album, OK COMPUTER, playing the electronic masterpiece in its entirety with traditional instruments.

The Lincoln Center show will also feature vocalist Patti King, from The Shins. “We’re really lucky to have her,” says Jenkins. “She can win over any crowd in just one song.” Additionally, you expect to see Tyrone Hendrix, the former drummer for legends like Stevie Wonder and Prince. “Because we play music from all backgrounds, Hendrix really brings something special to it,” continues Jenkins.

Backed by a full band of talented musicians, the true stars of the performance are the world-class cellists who come in from all over the country, such as renowned improvisational cellist Skip von Kuske, and Diane Chaplin from the critically-acclaimed Colorado Quartet. “We all converge on the day of a show like Ocean’s 11,” jokes Jenkins.

Although OK COMPUTER is the highlight of the show, the opening set will not disappoint. With multiple musicians coming from diverse musical backgrounds it leaves the door wide open to a starting set of songs that can range anywhere from “Flight of the Bumblebee” to “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift.

This varied backgrounds of cellists, vocalists and instrumentalists is what makes Portland Cello Project so unique. In fact, no Portland Cello Project show is ever the same. “Every night is different,” says Jenkins. “That’s the most thrilling part. Every community is different too, and we adapt to them in that moment. We communicate with the audience and get a rapport going which in turn inspires us.”

You can see them at the Fort Collins Lincoln Center on October 12. Seats from $15 at LCtix.com.