Craig Hella Johnson to conduct three Yale choirs in diverse program

February 27, 2023
On Sunday, March 5, renowned conductor Craig Hella Johnson will lead three Yale choirs in Voices Rising, a concert that promises to be both spectacular and moving.
Johnson is the founding artistic director and conductor of Conspirare and music director of Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble. Known for crafting thought-provoking musical journeys that create deep connections between performers and listeners, Johnson is in frequent demand as a guest conductor of choral and orchestral works. He will conduct Yale Camerata, Yale Glee Club, and Yale Schola Cantorum as they perform a truly diverse repertoire.
LGBTQ and Black history themes are prominent throughout the program. All of Us, from the oratorio Considering Matthew Shepard by Craig Hella Johnson, encourages reflection on the legacy of Matthew Shepard, the victim of one of the most brutal hate crimes in American history. Trinity Church, Wall Street recently performed Johnson’s entire oratorio which can be viewed here.
Credo, with music by Margaret Bonds and words by W.E.B. DuBois that begins “I believe in God who made of one blood all races that on earth do dwell”, is an emphatic declaration of the need for racial equality. View a recording of the piece conducted by Hella Johnson and performed by Conspirare.
Words from activist, Wendell Berry, are the inspiration for The Peace of Wild Things and music both ancient and modern is reflected in Johnson’s setting of the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore in the piece, Gitanjali Chants.  Below is a summary of the program and the full program can be viewed here.
  • Gitanjali Chants by Craig Hella Johnson
  • Requiem and Sanctus (from Messa di Requiem) by Ildebrando Pizzetti
  • Credo by Margaret Bonds  (Deborah Stephens soprano, Korin Thomas-Smith baritone, Ethan Haman piano)
  • If I Were a Swan by Kevin Puts
  • The Peace of Wild Things (from American Triptych) by Jake Runestad
  • You Through Me by Alex Berko
  • All of Us (from Considering Matthew Shepherd) by Johnson
  • A Flower into Kindness by Jake Runestad

The concert starts at 4 p.m. in Woolsey Hall at Yale and is free and open to the public. The concert can also be viewed via livestream here.

Craig Hella Johnson joined the faculty at Texas State University as Artist in Residence in fall 2016 and was awarded the 2022 Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activities. He is a published composer and arranger, guest conductor and educator. Johnson’s first concert-length composition Considering Matthew Shepard was premiered and recorded by Conspirare for a 2016 CD release. Considering Matthew Shepard continues to be performed around the world, most recently in Berlin and around the United States. Johnson’s accomplishments have been recognized with numerous awards and honors. Notably among them, he and Conspirare won a 2014 Grammy® for Best Choral Performance, Chorus America awarded him the Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art in 2015, and the Texas State Legislature named him Texas State Musician for 2013. In 2021, the Matthew Shepard Foundation recognized him with the Dennis Dougherty Award for Community Leadership.