From the press release:
PORTLAND, OR —Resonance Ensemble has been awarded a $100,000 grant from The Oregon Community Foundation Creative Heights Initiative. The grant will help fund the world premiere of composer Damien Geter’s An African American Requiem, a pivotal work memorializing the lives of African Americans lost to racist violence in the United States, and the first work of its kind to be performed in Oregon. The work, a commission by Resonance Ensemble, will be presented by Resonance in partnership with the Oregon Symphony on Saturday, May 23, 2020, at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
“Resonance is thrilled to receive this grant from The Oregon Community Foundation,” offers Resonance’s Artistic Director Dr. Katherine FitzGibbon. “As yet, there has not been a Requiem written in memory of African Americans who have lost their lives to racial violence; this will be a groundbreaking project that we believe can have a tremendous impact on all Oregonians. We are proud to partner with the Oregon Symphony as a conduit for Damien Geter’s incredibly important work.”
This concert-length work draws upon classical, jazz, and folk traditions. The Requiem uses the traditional Latin Requiem text for many movements but also incorporates spirituals and texts from civil rights activists Ida B. Wells, Eric Garner, Jamilia Land, and Antwone Rose. The final movement is scored for orchestra and narrator, with words penned and performed by African American poet and Portland resident S. Renee Mitchell.
“I am so grateful to The Oregon Community Foundation for seeing the value in our work,” says Geter. “This funding will help us to have timely and crucial conversations with Oregonians and hopefully beyond. I consider myself an activist through my art, and this Requiem is a perfect marriage of these passions.”
The premiere will feature a choir specially assembled by FitzGibbon, the African American Requiem Choir, featuring professional singers of Resonance Ensemble and Kingdom Sound Gospel Choir and representatives of other area choirs, and four renowned African American singers: Brandie Sutton, soprano; Karmesha Peake, mezzo-soprano; Bernard Holcomb, tenor; and Kenneth Overton, baritone.