In 1998 outside of Laramie, Wyoming, a 21-year-old gay man named Matthew Shepard was tied to a ranch’s fence post, beaten, and left to die. In 2016, famed composer and conductor Craig Hella-Johnson created one of the most important and powerful oratorios ever written. With inspiration from Bach to Gospel, cowboy tunes to Broadway, this work is not about hate and death, but ultimately about unity and triumph over hate.
The Orchestra Unplugged is a special collaboration between the Orpheum Theatre Group and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.
Robert Moody, conductor and host
Mary Wilson, soprano
Memphis Symphony Chorus
Dr. Lawrence Edwards, conductor
HELLA-JOHNSON Considering Matthew Shepard
About Robert Moody
2020/2021 marks Maestro Robert Moody’s fourth season as Music Director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. The MSO is enjoying great artistic and organizational success in this era; expanded and adventurous programming, the MSO’s first commercial recording in over three decades, and greatly improved financial underpinning are hallmarks of this success. Moody is also Music Director of the lauded Arizona Musicfest, boasting one of the finest festival orchestras in North America. Players hail from the top orchestras in the world, including the Vienna and New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestra, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco Symphony, and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
In 2018, Moody completed an eleven-year tenure as Music Director for the Portland (Maine) Symphony, and thirteen-year tenure as Music Director of the Winston-Salem Symphony (NC); both are now model 21st century regional orchestra success stories.
Debuts this season include orchestras in Colombia, German, and South Africa, as well as Sacramento Symphony in the U.S. Guest Conducting has included Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, and the orchestras of Toronto, Houston, Indianapolis, Detroit, Seattle, Ft. Worth, San Antonio, Buffalo, Louisville, Slovenian Philharmonic. Opera and Festival conducting includes Santa Fe Opera, Spoleto Festival USA, Brevard Music Center, Sewanee Festival, Eastern Music Festival, PortOpera, Oregon Bach Festival, Opera Carolina, and Des Moines Metro Opera.
Moody served as Associate, then Resident Conductor, of The Phoenix Symphony (AZ) from 1998 through 2006. Prior to Phoenix, he was Assistant, then Associate Conductor for the Evansville (IN) Philharmonic Orchestra, Music Director (and founder) of the Evansville Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and director of Evansville Philharmonic Chorus.
A native of South Carolina, Moody holds degrees from Furman University and the Eastman School of Music. He is a Rotarian, and has served on boards of YMCA, AIDs Care Services, and Charlotte Master Chorale. He is an avid runner, and now runs the St. Jude half-marathon in Memphis each year.