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Genre: Concert

Duration: 120 Minutes

Chorus Hamilton: Considering Matthew Shepard

In October 1998, Matthew Wayne Shepard was a 21-year old, openly gay university student in Laramie, Wyoming. He was driven to the outskirts of town by two local men, also in their early twenties, was severely beaten, robbed, tied to a fence, and left to die. For 18 hours, Matthew Shepard hung bleeding in near-freezing temperatures. At first, the passing cyclist who found him thought that he was a scarecrow as Matthew was of very small stature. He spent six days in a coma in hospital before succumbing to his injuries.

Twenty years later, around the anniversary of Shepard’s murder, composer Craig Hella Johnson wrote a passionate, powerful and haunting musical based on the death of Matthew Shepard. In his Oratorio, Johnson speaks fearlessly, moving the listener through Shepard’s thoughts and feelings using Matthew’s journal writings, all the while including Matt’s parents’ voices as well as excerpts from reports and interviews of the day.

Johnson’s expert use of various musical styles takes the audience on a reflective journey through hope, insecurity, horror, pain, loss and eventually, reconciliation.

This sophisticated, eloquent, profound, stirring, humanizing piece needs to be experienced by anyone who yearns for a better world.