The latest release from Conspirare is a monumental work written by their music director Craig Hella Johnson. Considering Matthew Shepard is a concert-length composition as a musical response to the tragic death of a young gay man "who has become an American icon and a symbol for hope and empowerment."
Music Director John Clare spoke to Johnson about this new Harmonia Mundi release.
Craig adds: "For the formation of the libretto, I chose to gather and shape a collection of texts from several writers whose words span centuries and represent significant cultural and geographic differences. I am indebted to Lesléa Newman for the poems from her extraordinary collection, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, which created the inspiration and foundational structure for the Passion music. My
collaboration with Michael Dennis Browne was deeply meaningful. He worked closely with me, writing several texts and bringing his wisdom and refreshing inspiration to the shaping of this work. Other
poetic voices that are woven into the texture include the German mystic Hildegard of Bingen, Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, Persian mystic Hafiz (rendered by Daniel Ladinsky), W. S. Merwin, and Wyoming poets Sue Wallis and John D. Nesbitt. The words of Blake, Rumi, Dante, Gabriela Mistral, and an Old Testament passage became building blocks within certain texts. For other sections, I created texts
Important dates include:
OCT. 7 - Anniversary of Matthew Shepard's attack
OCT. 12 - Anniversary of Matthew Shepard's death
OCT. 22 - Matthew Shepard Act - also known as The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, is an American Act of Congress, passed on October 22, 2009.