Concert to Feature Oratorio about Matthew Shepard on Sunday, Dec. 9

December 06, 2018

Time: 2 p.m.
Date: Sunday, Dec. 9
Place: Sebring-Lewis Hall, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park St., Grinnell

The Grinnell Oratorio Society and the Grinnell Singers will present the central Iowa concert premiere of  “Considering Matthew Shepard,” an oratorio by Craig Hella Johnson, on Sunday, Dec. 9.

Considering Matthew Shepard has quickly become one of the country’s most treasured choral works since its premiere in 2016,” says John Rommereim, Blanche Johnson professor of music and director of the Grinnell Oratorio Society and the Grinnell Singers.

“The work centers on the shocking story of Shepard, a University of Wyoming student who in 1998 was beaten and left for dead for being gay,” Rommereim adds. “At that time, Johnson was profoundly affected by the news of Shepard’s death, as were so many others worldwide. Yet his artistic response took many years to develop, as he contemplated and processed this deeply troubling story.”

Eighteen years later, Johnson finished composing what Jason Marsden, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, called, “By far the most intricate, beautiful and unyielding artistic response to this notorious anti-gay hate crime.”

Washington Post music critic Patrick Rucker, who reviewed the recording of Considering Matthew Shepard, described the music as “Powerfully cathartic, it leads us from horror and grief to a higher understanding of the human condition, enabling us to endure.”


Nicholas Miguel, a soloist known for his engaging stage presence in recitals and opera productions and a voice instructor and lecturer at Grinnell College, will appear as bass soloist. Appearing as mezzo-soprano soloist will be Suzanne Lommler, who received great critical acclaim for her recent performances in Chicago with Haymarket Opera, including a Chicago Tribune review that praised her voice as “dark and alluring.” Luke Fosselman, who recently received his bachelor’s degree in music at the University of Northern Iowa, will appear as tenor soloist.

In addition, many individuals drawn from the Grinnell Singers and the Grinnell Oratorio Society will perform in solos or small ensembles, or present readings.  

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