Following its world premiere by the west coast based Resonance Ensemble, Geter’s work will be performed on Monday, May 23, 2022 in collaboration withThe Choral Arts Society of Washington.
by TE DEUM ARTS MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS
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 occured 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.
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AN AFRICAN AMERICAN REQUIEM
WHEN: Monday, May 23, 2022 | 7 pm
WHERE: The Kennedy Center Concert Hall
COST: Tickets start at $15
MORE COVERAGE: (Courtesy of Te Deum AMS)
A native of Petersburg, VA, Patrick holds a BM in Vocal Performance from Virginia State University and a MM in Church Music from Shenandoah Conservatory. Formerly the Performing Arts Columnist for Washington Life Magazine, he currently is a freelance writer, publishing articles for several noted publications, including The Washington Post, Early Music America Classical Music Voice North America, The Afro-American Newspaper, CBS Washington and Examiner.com. He is a Board Member of the Music Critics Association of North America, a member of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., The American Choral Directors’ Association, a former member of the Shenandoah University Alumni Board of Directors, the Shenandoah University Black Alumni Network and a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Just recently he was named to the Dean’s Circle of the Shenandoah Conservatory Advisory Board. He serves as Organist/Choirmaster at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Zion Parish in Beltsville, MD and is Interim Director of Choral Activities and Instructor of Music at Virginia State University. Visit http://www.patrickdmccoy.com. Follow him on twitter @PatrickDMcCoy, IG: PDM06. and subscribe to “Across the Arts” on YouTube.
©2021 Patrick D. McCoy: No part of this work is to be edited, reproduced or cited without the express permission of the author.