Sing in Sonoma
June 9 – 16, 2019
Craig Hella Johnson: Considering Matthew Shepard
Gary Thor Wedow, conductor
Green Music Center
About the Location
California’s Sonoma County is known worldwide for its magnificent coastline, stately redwoods, and award-winning wineries. This Berkshire Choral International singing week is located at Sonoma State University, an hour north of San Francisco in the city of Rohnert Park. The Pacific Ocean is just a 45-minute drive west, and some of the best wine country in the world is just north and east. If you’re not too busy enjoying the nearby state parks and protected beaches, there are 375 wineries in Sonoma County.
About the Music
Considering Matthew Shepard is a poignant piece of work from Craig Hella Johnson in response to the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998. Shepard was a young, gay student at the University of Wyoming when he was kidnapped, beaten, and left to die in a field by two men simply because of Shepard’s sexual orientation.
Considering Matthew Shepard is Johnson’s first concert-length work and incorporates a variety of musical styles to take listeners through a range of emotions. The piece includes passages from Matt’s personal journal, interviews and writings from his parents, newspaper reports and a range of poetic and soulful texts, and debuted at #4 on Billboard’s Traditional Classical Chart in September 2016. Craig Hella Johnson has previously conducted with Berkshire Choral International (2006 and 2012), and we are extremely excited to be showcasing his work in 2019. You can read more on this piece here.
Sing in a superb concert hall
On par with the best in the country, the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall is the centerpiece of the university’s 1,400-seat Green Music Center. Opened in September 2012, the Green Music Center's acoustics are superb, designed to rival such great concert halls as Boston Symphony Hall, Vienna’s Musikvereinssaal, and Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall (after which it was modeled). All three floors are filled with handcrafted European steamed beech maple seats, which remain acoustically neutral whether occupied or empty. The hall’s rear wall can be opened to the outdoors, extending the concert experience to an audience of up to 3,000.