April 18, 2019  

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Grammy Award-Winning Conspirare Presents Poignant Concert Event in Hattiesburg

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Grammy Award-winning and internationally recognized Conspirare will perform Considering Matthew Shepard on Feb. 28 at USM. (Submitted photo)

Comprised of soloists from around the country, the Austin (Texas)-based, Grammy Award-winning and internationally recognized Conspirare will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 28, in the Mannoni Performing Arts Center on The University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg Campus.

As the southern-most stop on its nationwide tour, the ensemble presents, Considering Matthew Shepard, composed by the group’s founder and artistic director, Craig Hella Johnson.

Considering Matthew Shepard, a music and drama presentation that debuted at number four on Billboard’s Traditional Classical Chart, is an evocative and compassionate musical response to the murder of Matthew Shepard. The Washington Post calls the impact “immediate, profound and, at times, overwhelming.”

Conspirare debuted Considering Matthew Shepard in Austin in 2016 and presented the work at Boston Symphony Hall and Texas A&M in 2016-17. This performance is part of a national tour in observance of the 20th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death. A performance is also scheduled at the University of Mississippi on Feb. 27.

In October of 1998, Matthew Shepard, a student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, was kidnapped, severely beaten, tied to a fence and left to die because of his sexual orientation. Five days later, when he passed away, the world was watching.

Led from the piano by Johnson, this musical response showcases the award-winning artistry of Conspirare’s singers with a chamber ensemble of renowned instrumentalists. This three-part fusion oratorio speaks with a fresh and bold voice, incorporating a variety of musical styles seamlessly woven into a unified whole.

Johnson sets a wide range of poetic and soulful texts by poets including Hildegard of Bingen, Lesléa Newman, Michael Dennis Browne, and Rumi. Passages from Shepard’s personal journal, interviews and writings from his parents Judy and Dennis Shepard, newspaper reports and additional texts by Johnson and Browne are poignantly appointed throughout the work.

The event is ticketed and open to the public. Tickets are available at the Southern Miss Ticket Office, 800.844.8425, 601.266.5418, or southernmisstickets.com.

Editor’s Note: Austin television station KRLU featured Considering Matthew Shepard as part of its Arts in Context series. That episode can be viewed here: http://video.klru.tv/video/2365839778/