WWU Concert Choir: "Considering Matthew Shepard"


  • General admission: $15
  • WWU employees: $5
  • Students with ID: free - get a voucher ticket from the box office or online. Ticket is required for admission.

Disability Accommodations

Equal Opportunity Institution. 24+ hours advance notice is appreciated for accommodations.

WWU Concert Choir performs "Considering Matthew Shepard" by Craig Hella Johnson

All WWU student soloists and 8 professional instrumental musicians


Composer Craig Hella Johnson refers to the profound silence after choral performances as the “long sacred silence”, a reaction that deeply resonates with audiences. Still profoundly moved by Matthew Shepard's death after many years, Johnson composed a piece to memorialize Shepard and explore broader societal themes. The composition invites introspection on humanity, and learning to love our differences.

Johnson says about his work: “The piece is of course about Matthew Shepard and what happened in his life and his death, but the piece is just as much centered around the listener. It’s an invitation to reflect on one’s own life journey and to ask some of the questions that stories like this raise.”

“After the last movement, when the house was dark and quiet – that moment was special. No one talking; no one coughing – almost a supernatural experience...” - student performer of the piece.

About Matthew Shepard

Matthew Shepard was a 21-year-old college student who was victim to an anti-gay hate crime. In Wyoming, October 1998, he was brutally attacked and tied to a fence in a field, left to die. He was found by a bicyclist who initially mistook him for a scarecrow. He succumbed to his wounds in a Colorado hospital.

Matt's death spawned an activist movement which resulted in the Hate Crimes Prevention Act (2009), the Laramie Project, training to law enforcement officers and prosecutors since 2017, and worldwide dialogue about hate and acceptance within communities.

Considering Matthew Shepard

Approaching the eve of the 20th anniversary of Matt’s murder, composer Craig Hella Johnson responded with his first concert-length work, Considering Matthew Shepard. 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 Matt’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.

Learn more at the Matthew Shepard Foundation