Presented in partnership with the U‑M Museum of Art (UMMA), Considering Matthew Shepard is an evocative and compassionate musical response to the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998, one of America’s most notorious anti-gay hate crimes. Shepard’s tragic death ultimately led to the creation of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and provided a catalyst for legislation that expanded the definition of a hate crime to include sexual orientation. In 2009, Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Composer Craig Hella Johnson had a profoundly personal reaction to both the murder and its resonance. The Shepard family and Foundation engaged with Johnson to create the Grammy-nominated oratorio, Considering Matthew Shepard, which draws from fragments of Shepard’s personal diary.
In November 2021, the U‑M School of Music, Theatre & Dance and UMMA created a live performance film of the U‑M Chamber Choir performing the oratorio under the direction of award winning conductor Eugene Rogers, acclaimed stage director Matt Kunkel, and Emmy-award winning film producer Bob Berg, with pianist Scott VanOrnum, production designer Harrison Hoffert, and narrated by Priscilla Lindsay. The live performance was presented as part of the UMMA exhibition Oh honey…A queer reading of the collection and the 50th anniversary of the U‑M Spectrum Center.
This Penny Stamps Speaker Series event offers a public screening of the performance film, followed by a conversation with Rogers and Johnson about the work.
Presented by UMMA, the U‑M School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and the Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series. Additional support provided by U‑M Global Communications.
Lead support for the UMMA exhibition Oh honey…A queer reading of the collection is provided by Alan Hergott and Curt Shepard and the University of Michigan Office of the Provost.
In accordance with the University of Michigan’s Standard Practice Guidelines on Freedom of Speech and Artistic Expression, the Penny Stamps Speaker Series does not censor our speakers or their content. The content provided is intended for adult audiences and does not reflect the views of the University of Michigan or Detroit Public Television.