Craig Hella Johnson on Turning Hate into Art

Craig Hella Johnson, composer of Considering Matthew Shepard, talks with Boston media about the years-long process of creating an oratorio from a crime that evoked a myriad of emotional responses in him.

January 26, 2017

Speaking with reporters in the days leading up to Grammy Award-winning choral ensemble Conspirare’s performance of Considering Matthew Shepard at Boston’s Symphony Hall, Grammy-winning composer Craig Hella Johnson revealed the long, emotional process of writing a large-scale oratorio as a response to the killing of Matthew Shepard. That event that led to the U.S. Congress passing the Matthew Shepard Act, and to Johnson’s oratorio, the album of which is nominated for a 2017 Grammy Award.

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Johnson, who has studied with Berklee Online, discussed carrying a "whole basket of emotions" for more than a decade before he began composing his musical reaction. Speaking with Boston Spirit magazine, he recalled finding "the right musical expression" when he hit upon the idea of a passion, inspired by Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” and “St. John Passion” oratorios.

Information about the February 5, 2017 performance is available here.