PODCAST: Inside Berklee—Craig Hella Johnson

By 
Bryan Parys
January 20, 2017
Craig Hella Johnson
Craig Hella Johnson, founder and artistic director of Conspirare

Grammy-winning conductor/composer Craig Hella Johnson is the founder and artistic director for Conspirare (Latin for "to breathe together"), a choral organization renowned for its technical mastery and emotional depth. Amidst garnering countless awards, receiving a Ph.D., and a busy concert schedule, Johnson’s love of learning led him to Berklee Online, where he’s taken classes in songwriting and music business. Given Berklee Online's flexible schedule, he plans to take more classes in the future.

For his latest composition, the 2017 Grammy-nominated Considering Matthew Shepard, Johnson creates an arresting and honest search for light in the story of Matthew Shepard, the victim of a fatal hate crime that shook the nation in October 1998. As part of Berklee's Signature Series, the three-part fusion oratorio will be performed at Boston’s Symphony Hall on Sunday, February 5, 2017 at 3:00 p.m., leading listeners to find the light of hope within tragedy.

"The piece isn't a retelling of what happened to Matthew Shepard," Johnson says, explaining that the oratorio is more focused on exploring the question of, "Where do we go from there when we encounter hate in our world?"

In this episode of Inside Berklee, Johnson speaks by phone from his home in Texas about what drew him to interpret Shepard’s story and how this show addresses the question, as he puts it, "When we are faced with the confounding realities of life that seem dark and difficult, is love still to be found at the core of this?"

Producer: Bryan Parys
Engineer: Dyami Wilson
Recorded at the BIRN Studios

Watch Johnson conducting Conspirare during a past performance of Considering Matthew Shepard: