World premiere of commissioned work by Todd Coleman to be held on May 14

The associate professor of music composed a work featuring the poetry of Sara Teasdale.

A commissioned musical work by Associate Professor of Music Todd Coleman to commemorate the anniversary of Voices — The Chapel Hill Chorus will be held on May 14.

Voices was set to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the organization in 2020 when COVID struck, so the celebration was postponed.

“We wanted to commission a work to celebrate our 40th anniversary,” said Elon Director of Choral Activities Stephen A. Futrell, who is also artistic director/conductor of Voices. “Commissioning Todd to compose a piece was my first thought. We are fortunate at Elon to have such a gifted, and widely recognized, commissioned, and published composer as Dr. Coleman.”

For this special commission, Coleman composed a 35-minute, eight-movement song cycle for chorus and orchestra on an ad hoc collection of poems by Sara Teasdale. The work, “Having Seen Afar Off,” offers a series of interconnected meditations that form a larger narrative on the soul’s migration.

This characterization is described in the following brief excerpt from the program note written by Dr. Michael Hicks:

“The word ‘gallery,’ in fact, actually suggests how one might approach the music of this work overall. The texts present a narrative, a biography of the soul. And in turn, the music illuminates that narrative via a meticulous orchestration of thought, or what I sometimes call ‘music as philosophy’ — the ineffable intelligence unique to organized sound. But Coleman’s careful construction of sonic materials also takes us through a gallery of art objects in themselves.”

The concert will be held Saturday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Hall on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill. Voices will perform, with orchestra, Ola Gjeilo’s Dark Night of the Soul and Luminous Night of the Soul, and conclude with the World Premiere of Todd Coleman’s piece Having Seen Afar Off. Tickets are available at

More information about Voices – The Chapel Hill Chorus can be found here. During the 2020-2021 season, Voices produced a number of virtual-choir recordings/videos which can be viewed on its YouTube site: . More information about Todd Coleman can be found here.