Conspirare is a vocal ensemble that performs music from various periods and styles, including many of the choral classics (much of it from the sacred genre) and a range of contemporary, traditional, and popular works.
Conspirare consists of a fully professional chamber-sized vocal group that performs most of the concerts, and an augmented or symphonic ensemble, who appear only rarely, for perhaps as little as one concert during the season. The symphonic Conspirare uses amateur singers to expand the number of the group to about 38. There is also a third branch to Conspirare's activities, the Conspirare Youth Choirs, which is an educational endeavor involving the training of singers from ages 9 to 17. Children and teens from this program also assemble for occasional appearances in concert. Conspirare is led by Craig Hella Johnson, who, in addition to his choral activities with the group, is an orchestral conductor, arranger, and composer. A typical Conspirare concert will likely feature a colorful mixture of choral pieces, something like the following program: an arrangement of a Dolly Parton or Carly Simon song; film composer Ennio Morricone's Gabriel's Oboe; sacred music by Pizzetti; a Stephen Foster number, and maybe a traditional song like "Deep River." The ensemble gives a regular slate of concerts each year in Austin and nearby communities. It also tours and has appeared on radio and television, including on PBS. Conspirare's Austin-based concerts take place in a variety of locations, from St. Louis King of France Catholic Church to the Long Center for the Performing Arts. Conspirare has recorded for Harmonia Mundi and Clarion, was formed in 1991, and was originally called the New Texas Festival. The group performed irregularly until 1999, when it took on a regular schedule of concerts.
In 2004 it made its first recording, Through the Green Fuse, a collection of mixed fare on the Clarion label. The following year the Conspirare management created its educational offshoot, Conspirare Youth Choirs. In this program youthful singers are divided into two ensembles, the Kantorei and the Children's Choir. 2005 was also the year of Conspirare's second recording, Requiem, which included music by Howells and Pizzetti. Issued on the Harmonia Mundi label, it achieved broad critical acclaim and drew two Grammy nominations.
Conspirare got another pair of Grammy nominations in 2009 for its Harmonia Mundi CD Tarik O'Reagan: Threshold of Night.