Irish youth choir to remember gay man Matthew Shepard in powerful concerts

Cór Linn will hold two performances to remember Matthew Shepard, one in the National Concert Hall and one in Carlow.

An image of Cór na nÓg who will perform Considering Matthew Shepard alongside Cór Linn. The image shows three lines of children wearing turquoise waistcoats with their arms raised in the air as they sing.
Image: @newmusicdublin via Instagram

As part of the 2023 New Music Dublin festival, youth choir Cór Linn will present the Irish premiere of Considering Matthew Shepard, a choral composition by Craig Hella Johnson.

Written in 2016, the piece celebrates the life of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay man who died as a result of a brutal homophobic attack in Wyoming in 1998. His murder prompted widespread outrage marked by mass vigils across the US. It also resulted in the passing of federal hate crime legislation in 2010, which was named in his honour.

The composition draws on a wide range of musical styles and poetic texts. It includes passages from Matthew’s personal journal and is described as “a soulful work of hope and forgiveness”.

Formed in 2018, Cór Linn is a mixed-voice choir for young singers between 14 to 19 years of age. The choir is one of the National Concert Hall and RTÉ choirs and comprises approximately forty members. 

The Cór Linn performance of Considering Matthew Shepard will be the first time that the Grammy-nominated piece has been sung live in Ireland.


Speaking about the importance of the event, Mary Amond O’Brien, Music Director of the choir, said, “I believe it is very timely for Cór Linn to be performing Considering Matthew Shepard for NMD 2023. This work is being performed mostly by adult choruses around the world, having made its way over the last few years from America to Europe and to Ireland now too. The fact the work is being performed by 14 – 20 years olds is all the more profound.”

She continued, “The Arts in young peoples’ lives and all our lives too are essential to keep all of our sensitivities alive in such a challenging world.”

She also spoke about why she selected the composition for the choir. “I have been doing a lot of research on the work since first discovering it in 2019 in relation to the history of homophobic hate crimes here in Ireland and it is amazing how times have not changed very much which is quite sad.”



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Cór Linn will hold two concerts of Considering Matthew Shepard along with Irish composer Elaine Agnew’s heartfelt short pieces We Are What Gives Us Strength

The first performance will take place in the National Concert Hall, Dublin, on Saturday, April 22, at 5.30pm where the choir will be joined by Cór na nÓg. Tickets are available from the NCH website.

The second show will be held in Saint Mary’s Church of Ireland, Graiguecullen, Co. Carlow, on Sunday, April 23, at 4pm. Tickets for this performance are on a donation basis and can be purchased at the door. All proceeds will be donated to Carlow Mental Health Association.

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