City Recital Hall & Sydney Philharmonia Choirs Present CONSIDERING MATTHEW SHEPARD Sydney Premiere
The brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998 caused anguish and outrage, and almost 20 years later inspired American composer Craig Hella Johnson to compose an oratorio: at once commemorating the tragedy of a young life lost; and capturing the fullness of Matthew's 21 years and his legacy.
Presented on February 20, for the first time in Sydney, this one-off performance of Johnson's Grammy-nominated work by Sydney Philharmonia's acclaimed VOX Young Adult Choir will be a highlight of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival 2020.
On October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming, was tied to a fence in an isolated field on the outskirts of Laramie and beaten with the butt of a pistol. Almost 18 hours passed before he was discovered by a passing cyclist - alone, covered in blood, and barely breathing. Five days later, on October 12, 1998, Matt succumbed to his wounds, marking the beginning of a national reckoning.
One of the most notorious anti-gay hate crimes in American history, the ruthless attack on Matthew Shepard shocked a public into action, spawning a fortified activist movement that, more than a decade later, would result in the passage of a federal US Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
Over the past 20 years Matthew's story has inspired numerous artistic responses, including Moises Kaufman's play The Laramie Project, which has been seen by more than 30 million people; in addition to documentaries, books, and an HBO film.
Created in the lead up to the twentieth anniversary of Matt's death, the piece speaks with a fresh and bold voice, incorporating a variety of musical styles seamlessly woven: from Bach to Broadway, cowboy songs, chants, blues and Lutheran hymnody.
Passages of diverse text are also poignantly set throughout: words drawn from Matt's personal journal, interviews with his parents, and newspaper reports, mixed with the poetry and writings of Lesléa Newman, Michael Dennis Browne, Saint Hildegard and Rumi.
Thus creating, as Johnson wished, "within a musical framework, a space for reflection, consideration and unity around Matthew's life and legacy."
Originally written for Craig Hella Johnson's Conspirare, Considering Matthew Shepard premiered in February 2016 and has since been performed extensively throughout the US and Europe.
The work will have its Sydney premiere on Thursday 21 February 2020, at 7.30pm, performed by Sydney Philharmonia's acclaimed VOX Young Adult Choir, aged 18 to 30, making it an especially poignant concert for both singers and audience.
Presented in partnership with City Recital Hall, as a 2020 Mardi Gras Festival premier event, this one-off performance is sure to sell out. Book early at bit.ly/SPCCMS.