Kile Smith

Classical Host

Kile Smith hosts the contemporary American music program Now Is the Time on Saturdays at 9 pm on HD-2 and the classical stream, and co-hosts Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection on the first Saturday of every month at 5 pm with Jack Moore. Discoveries takes a fresh look at music in the Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music at the Free Library of Philadelphia, where Kile was curator for 18 years. He also fills in as an on-air classical host.
When he's not producing podcasts of CD reviews for WRTI, writing for the Broad Street Review, or teaching private composition, Kile is busy composing orchestral, choral, chamber, and liturgical works. His music is praised by critics and audiences for its emotional power, direct appeal, and strong voice. Gramophone magazine calls his Vespers "spectacular," possessing "sparkling beauty." The Philadelphia Inquirer describes his music as "breathtaking."
He's composed for The Crossing, Piffaro, Orchestra 2001, and the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival. He's also written for David Kim, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Jennifer Montone, Philadelphia's principal horn, and Anne Martindale Williams, principal cello of the Pittsburgh Symphony. His website is

The weeds in his ever-widening gardens hint that he needs to get outside more.

Ways To Connect

Two Englishmen, Guy Wood and Robert Mellin, slipped it into the Great American Songbook just before it closed, just as rock rolled over sophistication. It begins from below, a slowly twisting Roman candle of a tune, and explodes in the top range of the singer, as the eyes of onlookers reflect the glory of what songs once were.

He won two Pulitzer Prizes; taught composers as disparate as Leonard Bernstein, Elliott Carter, and Leroy Anderson; and his books on harmony, counterpoint, and orchestration continue to be used by composers today. On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday Oct. 3rd, 5 to 6 pm.

This week’s blood-red super-moon eclipse informs Now Is the Time, Saturday, October 3rd at 9 pm. Blake Wilkins’s Compendium, from the University of Oklahoma Percussion Ensemble’s CD Twilight Offering Music, is a moodily colorful start to the program. An eerie string quartet is The Gloaming by Michael Whalen, from his CD The Shadows of October.

We look up and out on Now Is the Time, Saturday, September 26th at 9 pm. In Philadelphia there’s no escaping the influence of the pope’s visit this weekend, so there’s a sacred tinge to this Saturday’s program. Curt Cacioppo gives the solo piano a workout, negotiating the potential of a rock-ribbed hymn in his Ostinato-Fantasia on "All Creatures of Our God and King."

A concert piece for cello and orchestra uses sacred music from the center of Jewish tradition. Consider Kol Nidre of Max Bruch, a work with wide appeal from an unlikely composer.

At the center of the Jewish year are the High Holy Days, culminating in Yom Kippur. Leading to this Day of Atonement is Kol Nidre, which is a service and a prayer. All vows, all words spoken against righteousness, are repented.

One of the truly great pianists on the scene for decades now is Emanuel Ax. Known for his interpretations of the classical concerto repertoire with orchestras around the world, he is also a soloist and collaborator of wide range. From Beethoven to Hans Werner Henze to contemporary music, and even to Chopin on period keyboards, Emanuel Ax is always inquisitive.

As the seasons change we look for light on Now Is the Time, Saturday, September 19th at 9 pm. In deep woods in a disappearing afternoon, a stream falls onto a rock and inspires Michael Colquhoun's percussion trio Talking Rocks. Honoring the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia, we'll hear the Gloria from Roberto Sierra's Missa Latina “Pro Pace.” Andreas Delfs, the new director of the Temple University Orchestra, conducts on this recording.

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, September 5th, 5 to 6 pm - If you’re looking for one composer who can be said to have created the sound of American music, you might look no further than Virgil Thomson. It’s true that Charles Ives was the pioneer who invented a crazy-quilt of music that was distinctively American. And there were, of course, American composers of concert music before Ives, such as the European-educated or -influenced George Chadwick, Horatio Parker (Ives’s teacher at Yale), Amy Beach, Edward MacDowell, George Bristow.

The composer Gustav Mahler once said, “A symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything.” If that is so, then Mahler’s second symphony, the “Resurrection,” is bigger, even, than that. 

Mahler had already tackled big questions in an orchestral work, called Funeral Rites. He played it on the piano for Hans von Bülow, and the conductor said that it made Wagner's Tristan und Isolde sound like Haydn. Mahler turned Funeral Rites into the first movement of his Resurrection symphony.

Alleluia is by far Randall Thompson’s best-known work; he is known overwhelmingly for his choral music, such as Frostiana and The Peaceable Kingdom. But Thompson also composed three symphonies, so we’ll get to know his symphonic writing on this Discoveries program.

From two works of his that are in the Fleisher Collection, we’ll hear the outer movements of Symphony No. 1 and all of Symphony No. 2. Both were composed early in his career, within a two-year span.