Considering Matthew Shepard - Click HERE to Purchase Tickets! 

The Carolina Master Chorale opens its 2023-24 concert season October 13-15, with CONSIDERING MATTHEW SHEPARD, a Grammy-nominated three-part oratorio composed by Craig Hella Johnson. The work is an evocative and compassionate musical response to the murder of Matthew Shepard. On October 6, 1998, University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, beaten, and left to die, in what became an infamous act of brutality, and one of America’s most notorious anti-gay hate crimes. Shepard’s murder ultimately led to the creation of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and provided a catalyst for legislation that expanded the definition of a hate crime to include sexual orientation. In 2009, Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Composer Craig Hella Johnson had a profoundly personal reaction to both the murder and its resonance.

This three-part fusion oratorio speaks with a fresh and bold voice, incorporating a variety of musical styles seamlessly woven into a unified whole. Johnson sets a wide range of poetic and soulful texts by poets including Hildegard of Bingen, Lesléa Newman, Michael Dennis Browne, and Rumi. The Shepard family and Foundation engaged with Johnson in the creation of the work and allowed the use of fragments from Shepard’s personal diary. These excerpts, along with interviews and writings from Matthew’s parents Judy and Dennis Shepard, newspaper reports, and additional texts by Johnson and Browne are poignantly appointed throughout the work.

The Carolina Master Chorale will stage the work in a collaborative effort the Theatre of the Republic of Conway South Carolina. A chamber instrumental ensemble from the Long Bay Symphony of Myrtle Beach will accompany the performance. The ensemble features string quintet, clarinet, guitar, marimba, and percussion. Soloists, singing in musical styles from classical to country and gospel will be chosen from throughout the Myrtle Beach musical community.



Dear Carolina Master Chorale Family,

Entering my twenty-third season as Music Director of the Carolina Master Chorale as the CMC approaches its forty-first season, I am greatly buoyed by the passion for great choral music that continues to grow in Myrtle Beach and along the Grand Strand. Fresh from an anniversary year that featured the largest subscription concert audience in our history – nearly 700 in attendance - our organization is committed to bringing you the very best season in our history, “HEROISM AND THE POWER OF LOVE”.

We debut the 2023-24 season October 14 and 15 with special performances of Considering Matthew Shepard composed by Craig Hella Johnson, one of America’s finest musicians. Considering Matthew Shepard is a profound oratorio-style, semi-staged masterpiece that I have wanted to bring to the Grand Strand since it was written in 2016. Our concerts, co-produced by the CMC, Theatre of the Republic, and Careteam Plus, with players from the Long Bay Symphony, commemorate the October 12, 25th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard after being left tied to a fence in rural Wyoming. Johnson’s Grammy-nominated work, written in styles from classical to gospel to country, is one of hope and optimism in the faith of tragedy, pointing a way forward in light as we continue to experience contention and struggle in everyday America. Sir Elton John is said to have cried upon hearing Considering Matthew Shepard and canceled the rest of his afternoon so that he could listen a second time. Through this production we endeavor to create a pinnacle transformative artistic experience for our audiences and performers.

Our Annual Subscription Series begins this year with our Christmas concert, the one that was attended by a 40-year record audience in 2022, this year features a 12-piece brass and percussion ensemble from the Long Bay Symphony, the largest such group we have ever engaged. We will propel you into the Christmas spirit with spectacular seasonal music from John Rutter, Randall Stroope, Antonio Vivaldi, and more. The concert title, “This Day Sing Gloria” is a mashup of titles from the concert’s program.
On February 17 and 18, 2024, the Carolina Master Chorale will wed two of its most popular programs, featuring the winners of the Seventh Annual Carolina Master Chorale/Coastal Carolina University Student Vocal Competition in a Broadway love song concert for Valentine’s Day called “Broadway Heroes, Broadway Lovers.” The program will include songs such as "Make Them Hear You" from RAGTIME, "The Impossible Dream" from MAN OF LA MANCHA, "Can You Read My Mind?" from SUPERMAN, "One Day More" from LES MISERABLES, "In Every Age" from TITANIC, and more. Our competition winner and our Valentine love songs are extremely popular every year. In 2024, we bring you both on the same concert!

On April 27 and 28, 2024, the Carolina Master Chorale season finale, “AMERICAN HEROES,” will celebrate eight local heroes from eight walks of life, whose passions and efforts have made the world a better place. Honorees or their designees will be present to hear their stories told in brief, and to experience a choral performance selected specifically to ennoble their personal contributions. This is the second time the CMC has produced a program under this theme, and as there were far more nominees than could be honored at the previous concerts, this event undoubtedly will bring highly deserved recognition to individuals and causes that have improved the lives of all they touch.
I hope this note has found you all persevering and shedding light in your personal spheres. I hope you will allow the Carolina Master Chorale to make those tasks a little more inspired and rewarding by joining us for each concert of a memorable 2023-24 season. I hope to see you and greet you throughout the year.
With Gratitude and Best Wishes for All,


Timothy Koch, DMA
Music Director, The Carolina Master Chorale

carolina master chorale Mission

The mission of the Carolina Master Chorale is to promote the choral arts, present exceptional performances of choral music, enhance arts education, and enrich the cultural lives of our members, audiences, and the coastal Carolina community.

The Carolina Master Chorale, recognized as the premier symphonic chorus in the region, covering Northeast South Carolina and Southeast North Carolina, holds the distinction of being the longest-running community vocal organization in the Myrtle Beach area.

The CMC is proud to be celebrating its 41st anniversary season in 2023/2024. The repertoire of the Carolina Master Chorale encompasses a wide variety of innovative and critically acclaimed programming, including performances of traditional and lesser-known choral and choral/orchestral masterworks, full operatic productions, adventurous contemporary music, numerous commissions, and premieres, as well as lighter fare ranging from Broadway to vocal jazz and gospel music.

The Carolina Master Chorale thanks the following organizations for their financial support:

South Carolina Arts Commission City of Myrtle Beach South Carolina North Myrtle Beach South Carolina Horry County South Carolina
South Atlantic Bank Tidelands Ford