Compositions

James Baldwin said it best, “you write to change the world…” Damien Geter was born to write this masterpiece, and it will change how we show up in the world.
— Aminata R. Sei (Foreward from An African American Requiem)
 
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An African American Requiem

For Orchestra, SATB Choir, and SATB quartet
Commissioned by Resonance Ensemble, 2019

On Saturday, May 23, 2020, Portland’s Resonance Ensemble partners with the Oregon Symphony to produce the world premiere of An African American Requiem, a major musical composition that highlights and responds to violence against African Americans in the United States. 

This concert-length work honors the victims of past lynchings through hanging and present day lynchings through violence, with music that draws upon classical, jazz, and gospel traditions. The Requiem will use the traditional Latin Requiem text for many movements but also incorporate spirituals (There’s A Man Goin’ Round and Kumbaya) and texts from civil rights activists Ida B. Wells (Lynching is a Color-Line Crime) and Jamilia Land (We are living in communities that are like war zones). One movement is dedicated solely to Eric Garner’s famous last words, “I can’t breathe,” and it uses no wind instruments but rather a tenor soloist who sings over the constant roar of percussion instruments in an effort to be heard over them. Another movement recognizes children who have been killed and uses a line from a poem by Antwon Rose, “I am confused and afraid.” The final movement will be scored for orchestra and narrator, with words penned by African American poet and Portland resident, S. Renee Mitchell.

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The Talk: Instructions for Black Children When They Interact With the Police

For SATB Choir
Commissioned by Resonance Ensemble, 2019

There comes a time in every child’s life when they will have “the talk” with a trusted adult.  That talk is usually centered around topics relating to sexual maturation – the birds and the bees.  However, in the life of a black child, there’s an additional talk that needs to happen: what to do if they are pulled over or have an encounter with the police.  It boils down to four basic principles with the fourth being the ultimate goal: 1. Pull over.  Don’t run.  Keep calm;  2.  Keep your hands where they can see them;  3.  Be polite.  Save your rage;  4.  Get home safely.  (The phrase “save your rage” is credited to Jasmine Love.)  The instructions and the music are succinct.  A narrator speaks instruction before the singer begins each section. Starting in C minor, the piece wanders through a myriad of tonal centers until it arrives “home” in the end in C major. 

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The Spiritual Project

Contact Damien for your free score

The spiritual project is an opportunity to further the preservation of America’s folk music, namely the spiritual.  This ongoing project will expand over the years creating a library of commissioned arrangements of these works which will be available to the public for free.  You may commission an arrangement for any instrumental and/or vocal combination. Please contact me for details or a score. I’d love to know when you perform these arrangements!  The following spirituals have been arranged for choir:

  • There’s A Man Goin’ Round

  • Motherless Child

  • Walk Together Children

  • Give Me Jesus (2020)

 
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Buh-roke

A funky, neo-baroque piece for string orchestra and harpsichord.

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1619

For SATB Choir, narrator, piano, percussion

(Coming Winter 2020) For SATB choir, narrator, piano, and percussion.  To mark the 400th anniversary of enslaved Africans coming to the colonies, this piece captures their experience through the text of their narratives.  The second and final movement, 13, sets the text of the 13th amendment which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude as we know it, but instead created another avenue for the punishment of African Americans through mass incarceration.  

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The Justice Symphony

(Coming Spring 2020) A three movement work centered around civil rights anthems (Eyes on the Prize, and Lift Every Voice and Sing.)