Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Damien Geter, Native of Chesterfield County, to have Premiere of his work at The Kennedy Center 7 PM Monday, May 23

Damien Geter

An African American Requiem Graphic

Scott Tucker, Artistic Director, Choral Arts

Nolan Williams NEWorks

Choral Arts Society of Washington


Chesterfield County, Virginia native and acclaimed composer Damien Geter set to have his "An African American Requiem" receive its East Coast Premiere at The Kennedy Center.

Following its world premiere by the west coast based Resonance Ensemble, Geter's work will be performed on Monday, May 23, 2022 in collaboration The Choral Arts Society of Washington.

The Choral Arts Society of Washington will present the East Coast premiere and recording of South Chesterfield County, Virginia native Damien Geter’s An African American Requiem in collaboration with Oregon’s Resonance Ensemble. The concert will take place on Monday, May 23, 2022 at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. This setting of the requiem piece is drawn  from traditional Latin text and has been in the works for the last several years. It is a bold and thought-provoking musical response to racial violence against African Americans in the United States.

Growing up in Virginia, his artistic style was molded and influenced as a Black male growing up in the rural South.   To have this important work performed in the Nation's Capital at The Kennedy Center not too far from his hometown, Geter considers this as a marked and important occasion.  Additionally, he views it as a homecoming for him to showcase classical music to the Black community, a segment of the population that has long been excluded from the genre.

The work is a 20-movement piece that memorializes Black American victims of lynching, hanging, and other racial violence perpetuated throughout our country’s history. The infusion of Black vernacular, spirituals, and modern declarations enhances the traditional Latin requiem used for the body of work. Listeners will experience a setting of Ida B. Wells’s speech “Lynching is Color-Line Murder”; the famous last words of Eric Garner, “I can’t breathe”; and spirituals like “There’s A Man Goin’ Round” and “Kumbaya.” 

An African American Requiem was commissioned by Resonance Ensemble in 2017 and was originally set to premiere in April of 2020. Because of the pandemic shutdowns, the world premiere occurred on May 7, 2022, in Portland, Oregon at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.   Resonance's Artistic Director Dr. Katherine FitzGibbon spoke about the composition's early inception:  “When we commissioned An African American Requiem, we had no idea the path we were about to embark on. Damien’s work is extraordinary and moving, and it’s exciting to see how audiences, community partners, and arts organizations across the country are coming together to watch his vision come to life...it’s exciting to be able to perform it again so soon in the East Coast premiere. We are grateful for this incredible collaboration with Choral Arts as we perform and record Damien’s work at the Kennedy Center together” she concluded.

Artistic Director of Choral Arts Scott Tucker shared about the importance of this new work:  “It has been an honor and privilege to work with Damien Geter and Resonance Ensemble.  “An African American Requiem" has been in the works for a long time and we cannot wait to share it. Music has the power to awe, transform opinions, and evoke change. As we honor the lives of Black women, children, and men who have been killed senselessly in this country, we hope the audience is moved to start conversations about the disparities Black Americans continue to face" he said further.

The East Coast premiere will feature the Choral Arts Symphonic Chorus with Artistic Director Scott Tucker, Resonance Ensemble with Artistic Director FitzGibbon and NEWorks Chorus and Philharmonic Orchestra with Nolan Williams, Jr.

WHEN: Monday, May 23, 2022 | 7 pm
WHERE: The Kennedy Center Concert Hall
COST: Tickets start at $15

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