Resonance Ensemble receives $100,000 Creative Heights Grant

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Resonance Ensemble Receives $100,000 Creative Heights Grant to Premiere Damien Geter’s An African American Requiem

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 soloists: Brandie Sutton, soprano; Karmesha Peake, mezzo-soprano; Bernard Holcomb, tenor; and Kenneth Overton, baritone. 

I am so grateful to The Oregon Community Foundation for seeing the value in our work.
— Damien Geter, Composer
Resonance Ensemble Artistic Director, Katherine FitzGibbon with composer Damien Geter

Resonance Ensemble Artistic Director, Katherine FitzGibbon with composer Damien Geter


Composer Damien Geter infuses classical music with various styles from the black diaspora to create music that furthers the cause for social justice. Also a bass-baritone, Damien's 2019-2020 season includes appearances with the Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Opera, Eugene Opera, Resonance Ensemble, and Third Angle New Music. His most recent composition, The Talk: Instructions for Black Children When They Interact with the Police, was premiered with Resonance Ensemble in June 2019.  He is thrilled about the production of An African American Requiem, in partnership with Resonance Ensemble and the Oregon Symphony. For more about Mr.Geter’s work, visit 


Resonance Ensemble, a professional vocal ensemble based in Portland, Oregon, creates powerful programs that promote meaningful social change. Resonance Ensemble works to amplify voices that have long been silenced, and does so through moving, thematic concerts that highlight solo and choral voices, new and underrepresented composers, visual and other performing artists, and community partners.

Under Artistic Director Katherine FitzGibbon, Resonance Ensemble has performed challenging and diverse music, always with an eye toward unusual collaborations with artistic partners from around Portland: poets, jazz musicians, singer-songwriters, painters, dancers. The Resonance singers are “one of the Northwest’s finest choirs” (Willamette Week), with gorgeous vocal tone, and they also make music with heart. As Oregon Arts Watch recently wrote, “They do social justice music justice: their concerts are part social commentary, part group therapy, and part best damn choir show in town.”

For more information about Resonance Ensemble, visit or contact RE’s Box Office, (503) 427-8701.