Arts & Culture

UWF Singers present the Florida premiere ‘Considering Matthew Shepard’

The University of West Florida’s Dr. Grier Williams School of Music is proud to sponsor the UWF Singers as they present the Florida premiere of “Considering Matthew Shepard.” Performances will be held on Friday and Saturday, November 19 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Mainstage Theatre at the Center for Fine and Performing Arts on the Pensacola campus.

The UWF Singers music ensemble performing in the Music Hall in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018.

This 90-minute concert work explores the Matthew Shepard story and its effects on modern culture. On October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming, was brutally attacked and tied to a fence in a field outside of Laramie, Wyoming and left to die. On October 12, 1998, he succumbed to his wounds in a hospital. His story helped pioneer the country’s first federal hate crimes legislation in 2009 and continues to have long-lasting effects.

“Considering Matthew Shepard” is often called a “fusion oratorio.” As we tell this story, the composer, Craig Hella Johnson, blends many different genres and styles – from gospel to Gregorian chant, from baroque to country, there is something for every palate. The texts come from award-winning poet Lesléa Newman, lyricist Michael Dennis Browne, news clippings of the time, journal entries of young Matthew, and various historical figures. Content Warning: some of the material explores the attack, murder and death of Matthew Shepard. Other moments illustrate the hateful protests that happened around the time of the funeral. But other elements are full of joy and light.

The performance will feature the UWF Singers and the Concert Choir, a 9-piece orchestra, baritone soloist Corey McKern and soprano soloist Dr. Sheila Dunn, and an additional 30 soloists from the choir.

This event is free and open to the public but tickets are required. Face coverings are not required, however the University, as well as the CDC, highly recommends the use of face coverings indoors. This will allow us to keep our on-campus and off-campus communities safe. For tickets or more information, visit or call the CFPA box office at 850.857.6285.