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Considering Matthew Shepard

Considering Matthew Shepard

Downstage @ the Mann
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Presented By:

the Mann


Conspirare, vocal ensemble

Craig Hella Johnson, Conspirare artistic director/conductor

Elliott Forrest & Rod Caspers, stage directors

Rollo Dilworth & Jay Fluellen, choral music directors


Artists, repertoire, and content subject to change.

Add to calendar 2024-10-10 20:00:00 2024-10-10 20:00:00 Considering Matthew Shepard The Mann Center the Mann. America/New_York public

On October 10, GRAMMY®-winning vocal ensemble Conspirare and composer Craig Hella Johnson present the choral drama Considering Matthew Shepard, an evocative and compassionate inquiry into acceptance. Inspired by the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man in Laramie, Wyoming, the work offers audiences a chance to explore themes of anti-hate, compassion, and understanding in a powerful way. The story invites audience members to consider how we “other” people and how we can move towards acceptance. While Matthew’s untimely death occurred 25 years ago, these conversations remain relevant in today’s time of deep division. 


This three-part choral drama speaks with a fresh and bold voice, incorporating a variety of musical styles seamlessly woven into a unified whole. In addition to the world-class choral performance by the Conspirare ensemble, Hella 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 Hella Johnson and Browne are poignantly appointed throughout the work. There will also be choral performance by a community choir directed by Philadelphia’s Rollo Dilworth and Dr. Jay Fluellen.


The intimate Downstage @ the Mann performance setting offers the ideal environment in which to explore this stunning work in an engaging, welcoming way. The work aims to instill a renewed sense of acceptance, introspection, unity - and above all - hope in all those who attend. 


“‘Considering Matthew Shepard’ demonstrates music’s capacity to encompass, transform and transcend tragedy. Powerfully cathartic, it leads us from horror and grief to a higher understanding of the human condition, enabling us to endure.” 
– The Washington Post
“Matt Shepard and his story have led me on an inspiring, challenging and deeply meaningful journey that I continue to this day. In composing Considering Matthew Shepard, I wanted to create, within a musical framework, a space for reflection, consideration and unity around his life and legacy.” 
– Craig Hella Johnson, composer


Tickets are on sale now via or the Mann's Ticket Office.


This performance contains sensitive subject matter. Suggested age 13 years and up.  


About Downstage @ the Mann: 

Downstage @ the Mann offers audiences an intimate, in-the-round experience to engage with performances alongside the artists. As both audience and artist share the Presser Foundation Stage in the TD Pavilion, patrons can experience an intimate concert with up-close, under cover and open-air seating. This year’s series will explore the theme of “Acceptance,” highlighting works that tell stories of LGBTQ+ individuals and offering reflections on the ongoing journey toward inclusivity and understanding. The series includes Amythyst Kiah on August 16 and Considering Matthew Shepard on October 10. Learn more at

Downstage is partially funded by the William Penn Foundation.

Bag Policy

Bags must be 12"x6"x12" or smaller. For the safety of our patrons, all bags are subject to search.



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Picnics are not allowed for this performance. 

If you are 21 years of age or older and plan to consume alcohol at the concert, please be prepared to present proper I.D.


Lawn chairs are not permitted for this performance. 


Parking Information

Parking is free for this show.

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No photography is permitted at this performance.