Atlanta’s professional chamber choir, Coro Vocati will perform “Considering Matthew Shepard” Saturday at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center Byers Theatre.
This choral piece was composed by Craig Hella Johnson, Artistic Director of the Grammy Award-winning choral group Conspirare. Johnson endured terrible treatment as a young gay man and has said that this work “addresses a wound and how we learn to love each other.”
A wide array of musical genres represented in the piece, from Gregorian chants, gospel, jazz, classical even yodeling. In addition to the choral and orchestral music, “Considering Matthew Shepard” also includes visual images, poetic texts and passages from Matthew Shepard’s journal. Coro Vocati’s Artistic Director, John Dickson and tenor Jamie Clements, who portrays Matthew Shepard, spoke with Lois Reitzes about performing this extraordinary work.
Matthew Shepard’s murder has inspired several other works of art and it led the enactment of “The Matthew Shepard Act,” also known as the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was passed in 2009.
When asked about why Shepard’s murder has evoked such a depth of creative responses [internationally] Dickson said, “I think it was the innocence of a young college student and the horrific way he was tortured, plus the responses from his classmates and around the world.