Damien Geter is an acclaimed composer who infuses classical music with styles from the Black diaspora to create music that furthers the cause for social justice. His 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). He is Richmond Symphony’s Composer-in-Residence, Portland Opera’s Interim Music Director and Artistic Advisor, and Resonance Ensemble’s Artistic Advisor.
This season, Des Moines Metro Opera presents the full-length world premiere of American Apollo; Virginia Opera holds a workshop of Loving v. Virginia, co-commissioned by Virginia Opera and Richmond Symphony; Chicago Symphony Orchestra programs Annunciation; Richmond Symphony premieres a brand new work; and The Recording Inclusivity Initiative records String Quartet No. 1 “Neo-Soul”.
Last season, COTTON had its Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. premieres; Emmanuel Music performed his motet; Geter conducted his own piece, An African American Requiem (Fort Worth Opera); and led ABSENCE: Terence Blanchard (Portland Opera). In 2022 alone, he had six premieres: An African American Requiem (in partnership with Resonance Ensemble and Oregon Symphony); I Said What I Said for Imani Winds (Anima Mundi Productions, Chamber Music Northwest, and The Oregon Bach Festival co-commision); Holy Ground (Glimmerglass Opera); Elegy (American Guild of Organists); The Bronze Legacy (Chicago Symphony Orchestra); and American Apollo (chamber version for Des Moines Metro Opera).
Geter is an alumnus of Austrian American Mozart Festival and Aspen Opera Center, was an Irma Cooper Vocal Competition finalist, and toured with American Spiritual Ensemble. He owns DG Music, Sans Fear Publishing.
Damien Geter is an acclaimed composer who infuses classical music with various styles from the Black diaspora to create music that furthers the cause for social justice. His rapidly 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). He is Composer-in-Residence at the Richmond Symphony through the 2024-25 season, and serves as Interim Music Director and Artistic Advisor at Portland Opera, as well as the Artistic Advisor for Resonance Ensemble.
In the 2023-2024 season, Des Moines Metro Opera presents the full-length world premiere of Geter’s opera, American Apollo, while Virginia Opera holds a workshop of Loving v. Virginia, a new major work co-commissioned by Virginia Opera and the Richmond Symphony which will premiere as part of Virginia Opera’s 50th Anniversary Season in May 2025. Geter’s Annunciation is featured on Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s concert Montgomery and the Blacknificent 7, and Richmond Symphony will premiere a brand new work to be conducted by Music Director Valentina Peleggi. Additionally, The Recording Inclusivity Initiative records String Quartet No. 1 “Neo-Soul”.
Future commissions include premieres at Seattle Opera and Emmanuel Music, and world premiere operatic productions in 2024, 2025, and 2026 at the Seattle, Virginia, InSeries, and Portland Operas. Geter will also have subsequent premieres at Richmond Symphony.
Last season, COTTON was given its world premiere in Philadelphia followed by its Washington, D.C. premiere at The Kennedy Center, presented by Washington Performing Arts, and his motet was performed by Emmanuel Music. Geter also conducted his own piece, An African American Requiem, at Fort Worth Opera, plus led the performance of ABSENCE: Terence Blanchard with Portland Opera.
In 2022, Geter had six premieres as a composer, including his large work, An African American Requiem, in partnership with Resonance Ensemble and the Oregon Symphony with subsequent performances at the Kennedy Center; I Said What I Said for Imani Winds, co-commissioned by Anima Mundi Productions, Chamber Music Northwest, and The Oregon Bach Festival; his one-act opera Holy Ground for Glimmerglass Opera; Elegy for the American Guild of Organists; The Bronze Legacy for Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and the chamber version of American Apollo for Des Moines Metro Opera.
Favorite recent highlights include the commissions Cantata for a Hopeful Tomorrow for The Washington Chorus with subsequent performances at Pacific Chorale, Choral Arts Northwest, Bethune Cookman University, Northern Arizona University, Southwestern University, and Berkshire Choral International, with future performances at Minnesota Choral Artists; The Justice Symphony for the University of Michigan with subsequent performances with The Washington Chorus at the Kennedy Center, and future performances at Fort Worth Opera; Buh-roke for the Portland Baroque Orchestra which will have subsequent performances with the Seattle Symphony; Invisible for Opera Theater Oregon; and String Quartet No. 1 “Neo-Soul” for All Classical Portland and On-Site Opera. His piece 1619 also appeared with On Site Opera as part of their presentation “What Lies Beneath.”
Geter is an alumnus of the Austrian American Mozart Festival and the Aspen Opera Center, and was a semifinalist for the Irma Cooper Vocal Competition. He also toured with the prestigious American Spiritual Ensemble, a group that helps to promote the preservation of the American art form – the spiritual.
He is the owner of DG Music, Sans Fear Publishing. Music in Context: An Examination of Western European Music Through a Sociopolitical Lens, the book he co-authored, is available on Amazon, or directly from the publisher, Kendall Hunt.
“When he steps onto the podium, Geter will become the first Black conductor in the Fort Worth Opera’s 76-year history.”
— Kimberly Richard, 5 NBC News
“If I had but one word to sum up composer and bass-baritone Damien Geter…. I’ll go with ‘major.’”
— Washington Post
“A new work for a full symphony and chorus, ‘An African-American Requiem’ was acclaimed last year at the Kennedy Center. Now the composer-conductor will lead its ‘red state’ premiere.”
— The Dallas Morning News
“Damien Geter is an artist of many talents.”
— LA Opera
“A composer in his own right, Geter is passionate about working to promote the preservation of the American art form – the spiritual.”
— Seattle Opera
“Geter’s sound palette is very much his own distinct voice, and invigoratingly fresh”
— J. Sohre, Opera Today
“Skillful vocal writing…”
— Wall Street Journal