The Ithaca College Choir will present Considering Matthew Shepard by Craig Hella Johnson on Tuesday, April 16 at 8:15 pm in Ford Hall. There will be a pre-concert lecture by Dann Coakwell, Ithaca College voice faculty member and soloist on the recording of this work. The pre-concert lecture will be in Hockett Family Recital Hall. Janet Galván will be conducting the concert which involves the choir and an 8-piece orchestra of faculty and student players. Norm Johnson is directing the show.
Matthew Shepard was beaten and left for dead twenty years ago. His death has been the subject of plays, documentaries, and books. The composer, Craig Hella Johnson, was compelled to write a composition about Matthew Shepard. His professional choir, Conspirare, premiered the work in 2016. The music was released in mid-September, and the IC Choir is one of the first collegiate choirs to perform the work. There will also be a talk-back after the performance.
The choir will be joined by other singers from Ithaca College and from the community on one of the selections in the concert.
Craig Johnson commented on the work: "This piece actually became a whole lot more than just the story of the suffering. It needed to become this larger invitation to return to love. And to remember who we are as human beings, in the deepest sense of our essence."
We have been working with the Matthew Shepard Foundation in preparing this work. Jason Marsden, executive director of the Denver-based foundation, assisted the composer in his research for the composition. Marsden said "Considering Matthew Shepard is powerful partly because it reminds listeners of who Shepard was as a person. Our goal is to prevent crimes like this from ever happening to another family and to another victim, if at all possible. One way we can do that is to change our hearts and minds about the importance of respect for diversity, of inclusion, of understanding for LGBTQ people everywhere so that they are less subject to violence and more welcome in the circle of society."