For years, Conspirare Artistic Director Craig Hella Johnson thought about how to respond to the brutal death of Matthew Shepard. The 21-year-old, University of Wyoming student who was beaten, tortured, and left to die in a Wyoming field. Shepard died on October 12, 1998, six days after the attack, in a Fort Collins hospital. Shepard’s story haunted Johnson for years and finally compelled him to compose a musical response to this tragedy.
Led from the piano by Johnson, Conspirare: Considering Matthew Shepardshowcases the artistry of the Grammy-winning Conspirare choir with a chamber ensemble of renowned instrumentalists. This three-part fusion oratorio incorporates a variety of musical styles that are seamlessly woven into a unified whole. The work debuted at number four on Billboard's Traditional Classical Chart and is an evocative and compassionate musical response to this notorious anti-gay hate crime. The Washington Post calls the impact “immediate, profound and, at times, overwhelming.” The album received a Grammy nomination.
Conspirare is touring the work nationally in 2018 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death.