Conspirare has accepted an invitation to perform at the interment of Matthew Shepard’s ashes at Washington National Cathedral on October 26. The service will be livestreamed at https://cathedral.org/matthewshepard. Conspirare will perform selections from Considering Matthew Shepard during the service and a suite of movements from the work as part of a postlude concert.
Artistic Director Craig Hella Johnson commented, “To be asked to sing at Washington National Cathedral is, for any occasion, a momentous invitation. To be invited by the Cathedral for this particular moment— this final laying to rest of Matthew’s ashes— is a matter of the deepest and most meaningful significance. Tears came to my eyes when we first received the call. We have been singing “Matthew’s song” now for four years — this dear Matthew Shepard, whose life and death have broken open the heart of our nation to a vision of a more loving world, past the hatred and divisive climate which troubles us all so greatly.” Conspirare’s appearance comes on the heels of a seven-city national tour that began in Laramie, WY 20 years to the day Matthew Shepard was brutally beaten. A nationally distributed special co-produced by KLRU, PBS-Austin and Conspirare featuring performance and documentary footage is now airing nationally (check local listings).
The critically acclaimed choir will perform selections from Considering Matthew Shepard during the service. This work was described by The Washington Post as “powerfully cathartic.” At the conclusion of the public service the Shepard family will move directly to the Cathedral’s Columbarium for a private Committal ceremony to place Matthew’s remains in their final resting place. For the public who have attended the service, the Cathedral extends the invitation to stay and reflect in the space if they wish or to seek prayer with clergy in all of the Nave Chapels. During this time, Conspirare will perform a 45-minute program including a suite of movements from the work as well as a mix of familiar choral selections and classics.
The Cathedral’s Canon for Worship, the Rev. Canon Rosemarie Logan Duncan, said, “We felt it important to allow people time to remain in the space for reflection and prayer as the moment of interment happens privately.
For all in the LGBTQ+ community and beyond, this is a significant moment as the Shepard family brings Matthew to his final resting place. It is our hope that a sense of comfort and peace will have a broader reach that day and we are grateful to Conspirare for creating a musical environment that may provide healing and peace for many in our community.”
Considering Matthew Shepard is one of many significant artistic responses to Matthew Shepard’s legacy. Most noteworthy is The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman and the Members of the Tectonic Theater Project, which has been seen by more than 30 million people. Considering Matthew Shepard was featured in the documentary series Arts in Context and received critical acclaim across the country and world. After the world premiere, Jason Marsden, Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, said, “As a friend of Matt’s who lived through the dark days after his attack and observed firsthand the outpouring of grief, outrage and activism, as it spread from coast-to-coast and overseas, it was deeply touching to sit amongst a thousand strangers, sharing tears and laughter and, ultimately, a sense that the hopes Matt had for a better world are very much still potential realities, if we work together to achieve them.”
The service will be covered by several national and international news stations as well as live streamed.
You can view the live stream by clicking HERE.