October 3 – Music of Compassion and Consolation

3:00 pm, St. Ambrose Cathedral, 607 High Street, Des Moines        

Click on Past Events to view the concert and access the program.

December 19 – The Lessons, Carols, and Reflections of Christmas

3:00 pm, St. Ambrose Cathedral, 607 High Street, Des Moines

Click on Past Events to view the concert and access the program.

June 4 – Considering Matthew Shepard by Craig Hella Johnston        

7:30 pm, Sheslow Auditorium, Drake University

Umeri was pleased to present the Iowa premiere of this deeply moving work, which uses a broad range of musical styles (blues, jazz, gospel, country, chant, folk, Broadway, pop, and twenty-first century compositional techniques such as minimalism) to tell a story of wholeness emerging from suffering and brokenness, and a place of unity in diversity.  This powerful fusion oratorio celebrates the human potential to move beyond hatred and loss toward compassion and deep understanding.

Matthew Shepard was a twenty-one year old University of Wyoming student who was abducted, beaten, tortured, and left to die, tied to a fence in rural Wyoming, in October 1998.  His death was viewed as a hate crime and precipitated discussion and legislation at both state and national levels.  In 2009 Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  His murder inspired conferences, discussions, a scholarship program, and numerous works of art, include The Laramie Project.

Now, from the vantage point of almost a quarter century later, Matthew’s complicated life and death provide us with an opportunity, through this musical work, to reflect on and sing about the “otherizing” so prevalent in our world.  The piece helps us to rearrange our world view from arguments over ideas and concepts into a world of encounter, relationship, and presence to others.  In the words of Emmanuel Levinas, “It is relationship, ‘the face of the other,’ that transforms us, converts us, and gives us our deepest identity.”

Premiered by Conspirare, a Texas professional chorus, in 2016, Considering Matthew Shepard features an eclectic mix of musical textures created by the collaboration of the chorus, soloists, and instrumentalists (strings, percussion, clarinet, acoustic and electric guitars, piano) to provide a sweeping narrative that is both intimate and universal.  Umeri invites you to listen to their electrifying performance of this memorable piece by using the link below.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6yhsaKTY-g

You’ll find this digital program helpful as you listen.