Damien Geter launches symphony residency

Singer and composer Damien Geter has embarked on a three-year residency with the Richmond Symphony, to include premieres of two works, concert program curation and community outreach.

“Many of my earliest musical memories and my love for classical music came from sitting in the Richmond Symphony concert hall as a young person,” the 42-year-old Chesterfield County native said in a statement announcing his residency. “This was the place that set the foundation for me as an artist – it feels like a homecoming.”

In addition to working with the orchestra, Richmond Symphony Chorus and Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra, Geter plans to interact with the area’s young composers and members of the community in varied settings.

Geter’s compositions blend classical forms with musical styles of Black Americans and others in the African Diaspora. Among his recent works are “Cantata for a Hopeful Tomorrow,” introduced by the Washington Chorus; “An African American Requiem,” premiered by the Resonance Ensemble and Oregon Symphony; “The Justice Symphony,” written for the University of Michigan; and his Quartet No. 1 (“Neo Soul”), which Richmond Symphony members played in last summer’s Chamberfest and will reprise on Nov. 5 at the Sipe Center in Bridgewater.

In 2025, Virginia Opera will stage the premiere of Geter’s and librettist Jessica Murphy Moo’s “Loving v. Virginia,” based on the couple whose 1967 case led the US Supreme Court to overturn laws against interracial marriage.

A graduate of Indiana State University and alumnus of the Austrian American Mozart Festival and Aspen Opera Center, Geter has been serving as interim music director and artistic advisor of Oregon’s Portland Opera and artistic advisor of the city’s Resonance Ensemble.

A bass-baritone, he has performed with New York’s Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Opera Theatre, Portland Opera and other companies, and has been a vocal soloist in a number of orchestral concerts, including performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Richmond Symphony last season.

Geter also has a string of acting credits, including roles in NBC’s “Grimm,” Netflix’s “Trinkets,” and stage productions of the musicals “In the Heights” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Valentina Peleggi, the Richmond Symphony’s music director, said that Geter’s residency offers “the possibility to a new generation of composers to grow and develop through a solid and long-lasting relationship with the symphony that they can call home, coupled with sharing the excitement of the process of musical creation, bringing a deeper understanding of the composition process to a wider audience.”