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Professor Julie McCoy and choir Conspirare nominated for second Grammy award

01.12.2017 | By: Janna McKinley
Conspirare group shot

Music Professor Julie McCoy performed with the professional chamber choir Conspirare on the 2017 Grammy-nominated recording Considering Matthew Shepard. The recording is nominated in the ‘Best Surround Sound Album’ category. This is a technical category for which the award will be presented to the surround engineer(s), the surround mastering engineer(s) (if any) and the surround sound producer(s). The Considering Matthew Shepard nominees are engineer Brad Michel and producer Robina Young with Harmonia Mundi International recording company.

“‘Considering Matthew Shepard’ is a stunning work, largely because it succeeds at being so audacious. It treats a deadly serious topic with surprising levity, and at the same time makes a shrewd connection to the heart of this darkness,” newspaper Austin American-Statesman, said.

The work, which debuted at number four on Billboard’s Traditional Classical Chart, is an evocative and compassionate musical response to the murder of Matthew Shepard. On Oct. 6, 1998, University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, beaten and left to die, in what became an infamous act of brutality, and one of America’s most notorious anti-gay hate crimes.

Shepard’s murder ultimately led to the creation of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and provided a catalyst for legislation that expanded the definition of a hate crime to include sexual orientation. In 2009, Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Composer Craig Hella Johnson had a profoundly personal reaction to both the murder and its resonance. The Shepard family and Foundation engaged with Johnson in the creation of the 3-part oratorio, and allowed the use of fragments from Shepard’s personal diary.

“Matthew 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,” Composer and Conductor Craig Hella Johnson, said.