Damien Geter

Acclaimed composer Damien Geter infuses classical music with styles from the Black diaspora to create music that furthers the cause for social justice; he also is a celebrated bass-baritone, “amazing to listen to. ... possessed of a rolling, resonant voice even at the lowest register” (Northwest Reverb). His varied credits include performances from the operatic stage to the television screen. He is Richmond Symphony’s composer-in-residence, Portland Opera’s interim music director and artistic adviser and Resonance Ensemble’s artistic adviser.

Geter’s growing body of work includes chamber, vocal, orchestral and full operatic works, with his compositions being praised for their “skillful vocal writing” (Wall Street Journal). In the 2023-2024 season, Des Moines Metro Opera presents the full-length world premiere of his American Apollo. Virginia Opera holds a workshop of Loving v. Virginia, a new major work co-commissioned by Virginia Opera and Richmond Symphony, which will premiere as part of Virginia Opera’s 50th anniversary season in 2025. Chicago Symphony Orchestra programs Geter’s Annunciation, and Richmond Symphony premieres a brand-new work to be conducted by Valentina Peleggi. Additionally, the Recording Inclusivity Initiative records String Quartet No. 1 (“Neo-Soul”).

Last season, COTTON saw its world premiere in Philadelphia, followed by its Washington, D.C., premiere at the Kennedy Center, presented by Washington Performing Arts. His motet was performed by Emmanuel Music. Geter also conducted his own piece, An African American Requiem, at Fort Worth Opera; plus, he led the performance of ABSENCE: Terence Blanchard at Portland Opera.

In 2022, Geter had six premieres as a composer: An African American Requiem, in partnership with Resonance Ensemble and Oregon Symphony; I Said What I Said for Imani Winds, co-commissioned by Anima Mundi Productions, Chamber Music Northwest and the Oregon Bach Festival; Holy Ground for Glimmerglass Opera; Elegy for American Guild of Organists; The Bronze Legacy for Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the chamber version of American Apollo for Des Moines Metro Opera.

Opera Today praises his bass-baritone sound palette, which “is very much his own distinct voice, and invigoratingly fresh,” while the News Tribune calls him “superb.” This season, Geter portrays the role of abolitionist-historian William Still in Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec’s oratorio Sanctuary Road, presented by Virginia Opera, and based on the writings of Still, who is credited with helping nearly 800 enslaved people escape to freedom. He also joins Auburn Symphony Orchestra in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony and Rembrandt Chamber Musicians in The Wayfarer’s Melodies: A Musical Journey, singing the John Ireland Songs of a Wayfarer cycle.

Geter is an alumnus of the Austrian American Mozart Festival and the Aspen Opera Center, was an Irma Cooper Vocal Competition finalist and toured with the American Spiritual Ensemble. He is the owner of DG Music, Sans Fear Publishing. Music in Context: An Examination of Western European Music Through a Sociopolitical Lens, a book that he has co-authored, is available on Amazon or from the publisher, Kendall Hunt.

August 2023

Please note: Biographies are based on information provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on websites of the artists or their management.