Choir shares the life of Matthew Shepard through music

Choir shares the life of Matthew Shepard through music

By Wendi Reardon Price
Clarkston News Staff Writer

A few students from Clarkston High School Choir paused for a moment as they listened to the sounds coming from their classroom last Thursday morning for their upcoming final performance.
It was the first time all the pieces for their final concert were brought together, which includes choir, madrigals and orchestra, for a piece called “Considering Matthew Shepard.”
“We have spent a long time preparing for this concert,” said senior Claire McNeill, adding it is based on the life and death of Matthew Shepard a student at University of Wyoming, who was murdered because he was gay. “It’s such an impactful story that shares such an important, unified message of love and understanding no matter our background and our differences. I am excited about to be performing for this concert. It’s such a big collaboration, too.”
“I think this piece is so touching,” added junior Jacqueline Schatz. “Even if you can’t directly relate to what it is speaking of and the events that occurred. It’s just beautiful. When we started working on it, it reignited my passion for music. It reminded me how I like to sing. That’s how well done it is and how excited I am to do it. It’s going to be really great.”
The piece takes the audience into who Shepard was, goes into the events that happened. Then, the aftermath and the effect on his parents and his brother.
“It’s very interesting how the piece is written,” said junior Gavin Bow. “We are playing different roles of the events that happened. We are seeing it through different perspectives. We are singing from different points of the event.”
“It shifts from his life and then transition into grief,” said sophomore Jane Sorensen. “Then, joy and how you can have a good life and all lives have value. It’s working through all these horrible emotions and the good side.”
Bow shared his favorite part of the piece is “Ordinary Boy.”
“We share a lot of the same interests and I have the opportunity to play him in this piece,” Bow said. “It hits hard. As the opener, it just keeps hitting you through the rest of the pieces.”
Schatz likes “We Tell Each Other Stories” and explained there is good and bad in the world and we have to see both to recognize the good.
Sorensen shared her favorite piece is from the perspective of Matthew Shepard’s brother.
“It takes us through the story of his anguish and how he feels about what happened,” she said. “The harmonies are really cool.”
McNeill said her favorite is “The Innocence.”
“It’s such a beautiful song,” she said.
Clarkston Choirs final performance is this Friday, May 20 at the CHS Performing Arts Center, 7 p.m.
The Clarkston Junior High Choir concert is Thursday, May 26 at the CJHS Performing Arts Center. The Sashabaw Middle School Choir concert is Wednesday, June 1 at CHS Performing Arts Center.
All tickets are $5 at the doors.

PHOTO: Clarkston High School students rehearse for their upcoming final performance this Friday, May 20. Photo: Wendi Reardon Price

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