TCQ&A: Charles Farmer Coleman

I first heard of Charles Coleman when I saw his recent impromptu concert at Reade Street Pub on Instagram. Readers identified him as a local resident, and we caught up here with a TCQ&A. A composer, vocalist and conductor, his work has been performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony, among many others. He has written more than 100 compositions.

He started his musical career as a boy soprano at the Metropolitan Opera. “My mom suggested I should audition for the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus when I was 11, since I liked opera at the time. My first gig was in the chorus of Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Nutcracker,’ singing in the orchestra pit.”

The rules of the TCQ&A: Answer as many of the 48 questions as you like (but a minimum of 15, and you must answer #1–4).

1. How long have you lived in the area? Where are you from?
Born and raised New Yorker. My family moved to TriBeCa in 1975. I was 6 years old.

2. Married? Partnered? 
Divorced, I’ve have girlfriend named Danielle (from Bensonhurst) whom I’ve been seeing for 3 years. So far she still puts up with me.

3. Kids? Pets?

4. Where do you live?
Corner of Duane and Greenwich

5. What do you do for a living? 
Musician: Composer/Opera Singer (Baritone)/Conductor/Music Teacher/Overall eccentric

7. Most-frequented restaurants:
Reade Street Pub, Sweetgreen. Though my favorite bar of all time is Liquor Store Bar [on the corner of White and West Broadway and now the Todd Snyder store] which closed years ago. I met a lot of artistically inclined people there — composers, painters, writers, etc. We had wonderful discussions about the work we all do, how different we were and how we had a lot in common. I also love the Gee Whiz Diner. Great food. And Kaffe 1668. Great coffee.

8. For special occasions, I go to:
Concerts, theater. Stuff like that. One great occasion was when I took [my girlfriend] Danielle to the Metropolitan Opera. We saw Puccini’s “La Boheme,” because she loves the Broadway show “Rent,” which has a similar storyline.

10. Sweet-tooth satisfaction:
Brownies. But as I get older and heavier, I’m forced to resist. My waistline would appreciate that.

11. Most delicious cocktail:
I’m strictly a beer and wine man. I tend to alternate between Guinness and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

13. I can’t resist popping into:
Reade Street Pub and Bushwick Country Club (in Brooklyn). For better or for worse.

17. How I stay fit:
Next question?

18. Where I get beautiful:
“Hope Springs Eternal” -Alexander Pope

19. What’s the area’s best-kept secret?
Five & Dime Coffee/Cocktail bar at 8 Park Place in the Woolworth building. Wonderful spot with an awesome art deco look, like the era the whole building was built in. Every Wednesday night, two singers and myself perform in an “Opera Soirée,” singing all arias, duets and ensembles from some of the greatest operas. Needless to say, I can’t wait to get back to it when this covid stuff ends.

20. A recent enthusiasm:
When the London Symphony Orchestra performed two of my works at the Barbican in November of 2018. One of the highlights of my life.

24. Rainy-day activity:
Attempting to finish writing a cello concerto and my ‘Endurance’ symphony (aka no.1). The latter is an attempt to write a big work in response to the covid situation and how we are dealing with it.

30. I tend to take out-of-towners to:
I’ve taken my lady a few times to the Gee Whiz Diner. A simple place, but I’ve always loved their food, whether it be sandwiches, pasta or salads. If it tastes good, it is good.

33. Pet peeve:
People who end their sentences with an upward inflection. I know it’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s so annoying!

34. If money were no object, I’d: .
Donate whatever I could to the arts.

36. My most memorable celebrity sighting:
About seven years ago, I met the actor/singer Jesse L. Martin (Rent, Law and Order) late at night at a deli that used to be on the corner of Chambers and Church streets. We had a great conversation about what he does and what I do. A couple of days later, he emailed me through my website, saying that was nice meeting me. Good guy.

37. A local celebrity I’d like to run into:
Alec Baldwin and Seth MacFarlane. Both of them are funny, smart, entertaining and big fans of classical world.

38. The most romantic spot around:
Walks by the Hudson River. I’ve written many pieces inspired by that visual at dusk.

40. If I could change one thing about the neighborhood:
What I’d change in Tribeca, I would change in this country as a whole. More awareness for what me and my colleagues do in the classical world. There is a richness and wide array of talent in the arts today (composers, singers, instrumentalists, writers, painters, etc.) and part of what I love to do is spread the word about them.

43. My best Tribeca story:
For years, I heard a rumor that the legendary tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins lived in my building. [Rollins, 89, now lives in Woodstock, NY.] I didn’t believe it, until I met him in the elevator 20 years ago. I told him how much I loved his work. He responded “Oh! So, you know who I am?” I said “Of course!” Nice and humble guy.

45. Someone who lives here whom I really think you should meet:
Charles Yoder. An excellent painter who lives across the street from me. Years ago, when I was commissioned to write a 15-minute work for the Cincinnati Symphony, I chose as a subject the title of one of his paintings: “Deep Woods.” When I saw this painting at a gallery in Soho, it really struck me, with its overall dark wooded look, along with its subliminal bits of shadowy light that added to its abstract gloom. For me, the musical inspiration came very quickly. Charles is also a fun and delightful guy to hang with.

49. If I couldn’t live here, I’d live in….
Estonia. Three of my pieces have been premiered there. And the people are wonderful and very friendly.

50. I wish you had asked me about:
I guess this is where I shamelessly plug myself. Thanks!

Recent TCQ&As:
• Will Heinrich
•  Jon Pepper
• Peter Carey
• Patrick McGrath
• Logan Levkoff
• Edward Burns
• Ben LeBlanc
• Jacob Weisberg




  1. I’m happy to see a spotlight on such a great talent!

    Miss running into you Charles. Hope we can grab a cappuccino or a beer once the world is a little safer.

  2. Yes, do try to interview Charles Yoder, a great painter and great person who has lived here forever!

  3. Pam, thanks for shining a light on such an amazing talent. Drenched is a phenomenal and fun piece. Streetscape seemed to capture the chaotic beauty of our city. Can’t wait to hear Charles work at concert hall in person.

  4. Always enjoy your performance of God Bless America on 9/11 at Reade Street Pub.