All Classical Portland and WQXR Team Up for Bi-Coastal Live Broadcast of the World Premiere of Damien Geter’s AN AFRICAN AMERICAN REQUIEM
All classic PortlandsPacific Northwest’s premier classical music radio station, partners with WQXR in New York to present a live simulcast of the world premiere of An African American Requiem by Portland composer Damien Geter.
Commissioned by Portland’s Resonance Ensemble, this pivotal work commemorates the lives of black Americans lost to racial violence in a one-of-a-kind requiem. A collaboration between Damien Geter, Resonance Ensemble and the Oregon Symphony, the world premiere will take place at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, OR on Saturday, May 7, 2022, at 5:50 p.m. PT (8:50 p.m. ET). The live stream will be available on 89.9 FM in Portland, 105.9 FM in New York and broadcast worldwide on allclassical.org.
“As a black composer in today’s America, I feel like I’ve been writing this all my life,” says Damien Geter. “I was hoping there would be a time when we wouldn’t need this piece, but I think we always will. I hope an African American requiem will lead to meaningful action that will affect change .”
The requiem includes African-American spirituals as well as lyrics by civil rights activists Ida B. Wells and Jamilia Land. It also highlights words dedicated to Eric Garner, a line from a poem by Antwon Rose, and words written and performed by Portland poet Dr. S. Renee Mitchell.
Originally scheduled to premiere in April 2020, the requiem has been put on hold due to the ongoing global pandemic. The renewed production will feature the Oregon Symphony and the African American Requiem Choir, made up of singers from the Resonance Ensemble, the Kingdom Sound Gospel Choir and Portland-based choirs. William Eddins will conduct and Resonance Artistic Director Dr. Katherine FitzGibbon will prepare the choir. The concert will also feature a quartet of renowned African-American opera singers: Brandie Sutton, soprano; Karmesha Peake, mezzo-soprano; Bernard Holcomb, tenor; and Kenneth Overton, baritone.
The radio show will be co-hosted by Suzanne Nance, President and CEO of All Classical Portland, and Terrance McKnight, WQXR’s evening host. Sarah Zwinklis of All Classical Portland and Eileen Delahunty of WQXR will produce the program.
“An African-American requiem and its recent composition for chorus and orchestra is a painful reminder of the horror and ongoing threat of racial apathy and intolerance,” says Terrance McKnight. “It’s also a reminder of the power of music to bring us together as a community of concerned and compassionate listeners around the world. I look forward to bringing the world premiere to our listeners.”
All Classical Portland and WQXR are also teaming up to syndicate the program to radio stations across the country, following the world premiere. The syndicated presentation will be available in early June 2022, in time for stations to observe Juneteenth with their own airing of the program. You can find more information about syndication at allclassical.org/requiem.
“This is public radio at its best,” says Suzanne Nance. “Amplifying the art that reflects our society, and elevating the powerful work of composers like Damien Geter, is central to our mission at All Classical Portland. We are proud of this collaboration with the performers and New York’s WQXR. Working together , we will increase national and global access to an important work, through an unprecedented live streaming event.”
Damien Geter and Dr. S. Renee Mitchell have collaborated with All Classical Portland in the past. In 2020, the station commissioned and premiered Geter’s No. 1 string quartet “Neo-Soul”. That same year, Dr. Mitchell was commissioned by the station to write a poem revolving around the words “joy”, legacy” and “voice”. Her reading of the poem, “Harmonizing with Joy” is currently featured at allclassical.orgas part of National Poetry Month in April.
Those interested in attending the May 7 performance in person at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall can visit the Oregon Symphony website at orsymphony.org for tickets and more information.