may, 2023

This is a repeating event

19may7:30 pmPSU ChoirsConsidering Matthew ShepardLive or Recorded:Live Event


Event Details

PSU Choirs are honored to present the Portland premiere of Grammy-nominated “Considering Matthew Shepard,” an oratorio by Craig Hella Johnson, telling the story of a Wyoming college student whose 1998 killing made national headlines and played a key role in the later expansion of federal hate-crime legislation to include LGBTQ protections. The work is a musical fusion blending traditional choral styles with folk, pop, and country. It was composed in 2016 by Craig Hella Johnson, the Grammy-winning founder and artistic director of Conspirare, a virtuoso choir based in Austin, Texas, which premiered the piece in 2016.

On Oct. 7, 1998, Shepard – a gay student at the University of Wyoming – was beaten by two men, tied to a fence and deserted. It took nearly 18 hours until he was rescued and taken to a hospital. Five days later he died there. Shepard was 21. The viciousness of the crime – in effect a modern-day crucifixion – and the heinousness of its homophobia made international news but may have been too much for any of us to fully absorb at the time. So it wasn’t until 2016 that a musical work that could truly encompass the tragedy was premiered. In performance, “Considering Matthew Shepard” emerges as a portrait of our times and a testament to the nature of hate. Knowing all of this, one might expect “Considering Matthew Shepard” to be a dark and brooding piece of music, but Johnson’s libretto universalizes the story of Matthew Shepard in much the same way that Christ’s Passion story often has in music, to uplift instead of tear down. Johnson evokes the terror of this event early in the score, but transcends it with page after page of hope, yearning and thanks.

General Public $25; Students and Seniors $15


(Friday) 7:30 pm

Our Sponsors

Old Portland Hardware logo
Albertina Kerr
Foret Logo
Weitzer Company Logo

Meet all of our sponsors  |  Become a sponsor

  • KQAC 89.9 Portland/Vancouver
  • KQOC 88.1 Newport/Lincoln City
  • KQHR 88.1 Hood River/The Dalles
  • KQHR 96.3 Columbia Gorge East
  • KQMI 88.9 Manzanita
  • KSLC 90.3 McMinnville
  • 95.7 FM Corvallis/Flynn