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Long Beach Camerata Singers announces “Considering Matthew Shepard”

The Long Beach Camerata Singers continue their 57th season on Sunday November 13, 2022 with a special performance of the iconic contemporary oratorio, “Considering Matthew Shepard.” This performance continues the conversation started in October with Peace Project 6: Community, which featured works by LGBTQ composers, arrangers and lyricists. The concert will be the inaugural performance of Camerata’s new all professional group, The Catalyst Chamber Ensemble. The concert will be presented in the Beverly O’Neill Theater beginning at 4:30pm. A pre-concert lecture will be presented by Jeff Mack from the Matthew Shepard Foundation. The Catalyst Ensemble is led by 2021 Grammy-award winning Artistic Director, Dr. James K. Bass.

Dr. Bass writes, “Like Peace Project 6, this concert will underscore the immense contribution of the LGBTQ+ community to our artistic culture. America has been profoundly enriched by the contributions of gay composers, poets, arrangers and lyricists for generations.” Considering Matthew Shepard is a Grammy-nominated three-part oratorio composed by Craig Hella Johnson. The work is an evocative and compassionate musical response to the murder of Matthew Shepard, a young man attacked and left for dead tied to a fence simply because he was gay. He lingered for six days before succumbing to his injuries. His story inspired candlelight vigils and protests across the country. There was an outpouring of sympathy for Shepard, his family, and for gays and lesbians.

Considering Matthew Shepard is a deeply-thought work. A fusion oratorio, it draws upon a startling variety of musical styles to tell Shepard’s story: classical choral and symphonic music, a cowboy song, spoken text, hymns and spirituals, jazz, and pop. Composer Johnson and his co-librettist, Michael Dennis Browne, included texts from poets and authors such St. Hildegard of Bingen, Rumi, and Lesléa Newman, author of October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, a novel in verse. They also drew upon less traditional sources, such as newspaper accounts and interviews with Shepard’s parents. Some of the most insightful selections are from Shepard’s own journals, where he describes himself as “funny, sometimes forgetful and messy and lazy.” He adds, “I am not a lazy person though.” Matthew Shepard emerges as a fully drawn person, humanized, memorialized, almost in the room. His story becomes personal and universal at the same time.

Long Beach Camerata Singers is pleased to present this important contemporary American Oratorio, which remains a metaphor for the concept of community responsibility and the power of love to bring healing and understanding.

The pre-concert lecture will begin at 3:30pm, led by Jeff Mack of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Mr. Mack was acquainted with Matthew Shepard prior to his death, and was present in Laramie, Wyoming at the time of the incident. He brings an especially vivid and poignant persective to the events and the concert.

Individual tickets are available from $65 to $40 each. The LBCS Box Office is available to process orders or offer assistance, at 562-900-2863. Group tickets are available with a minimum purchase of 10 tickets, and can be purchased by calling our Box Office. Tickets can be purchased on the Long Beach Camerata Singers’ website, www.LBCamerata.org.

This article was released by the Long Beach Camerata Singers.