The Long Beach Camerata Singers rendition of “Considering Matthew Shepard,” shines a light on an inspirational and heartbreaking part of American history with a three-part contemporary oratorio memorializing the gay man whose brutal murder brought awareness to hate crimes and inspired change nationwide.
Led by 2021 Grammy-award winning Artistic Director Dr. James K. Bass, the choral show on Sunday, Nov. 13, is part of Camerata’s 57th season and serves as the debut for Camerata’s new all-professional group, the Catalyst Chamber Ensemble.
Bass said the performance continues the conversation Camerata started in October with its “Peace Project 6: Community” concert, which featured works by LGBTQ+ composers, arrangers and lyricists.
“Like ‘Peace Project 6,’ this concert will underscore the immense contribution of the LGBTQ+ community to our artistic culture,” Bass said. “America has been profoundly enriched by the contributions of gay composers, poets, arrangers and lyricists for generations.”
Composer Craig Hella Johnson’s Grammy-nominated “Considering Matthew Shepard” is an evocative and compassionate musical response to the 1998 murder of Shepard, a young gay man who was attacked, tied to a fence and left for dead in Laramie, Wyoming. His story inspired candlelight vigils and protests across the country, with an outpouring of sympathy for Shepard, his family, gays and lesbians.
The composition is a fusion oratorio that draws upon a startling variety of musical styles to tell Shepard’s story, from classical choral and symphonic music to a cowboy song, spoken text, hymns, jazz and pop. Johnson and his co-librettist, Michael Dennis Browne, included texts from renowned poets and authors as well as newspaper accounts and interviews with Shepard’s parents. Some of the most insightful selections are from Shepard’s own journals.
The concert on Sunday, Nov. 13, will be held in the Beverly O’Neill Theater, with a pre-concert lecture at 4:30 p.m. presented by Jeff Mack from the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Tickets start at $40. Call the Long Beach Camerata Singers Box Office at 562-900-2863 or visit LBCamerata.org.