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

This week we celebrate Scott Joplin’s birthday, which many believe was on November 24th, 1868. WRTI’s Kile Smith looks at a facet of his life that may have led to that unique contribution he made to American music: ragtime.

The spirit of Copland looks over Now Is the Time, Saturday, November 14th at 9 pm. It would be the 115th birthday of the son of Lithuanian immigrants, the son of Brooklyn, who, more than any other composer, defined what is “American” in American music. We think that there is at the very least a little of his spirit in the works on today’s show. 

There are those who dislike speaking of greatness, either because they are uncomfortable with things that are great or with things that can be measured. But most of us acknowledge that things, people, music, and even composers can be great, and so, by just about any measure, most people would acknowledge that the great American composer is Aaron Copland. November 14, 2015, would be his 115th birthday.

Even without Appalachian Spring, Aaron Copland might still be considered the greatest American composer. But this week, as we celebrate Copland’s birthday, WRTI’s Kile Smith thinks that the key to Aaron Copland is heard more clearly in Appalachian Spring than in any other of his works.

It’s two pianos, four hands, and more on Now Is the Time, Saturday, November 7th at 9 pm. Lowell Liebermann has two works on the program, starting off with two pianos and eight hands (two belonging to himself), on Daydream and Nightmare. Later we’ll hear his Sonata for Two Pianos.

Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings didn’t start out the way we know it now. WRTI’s Kile Smith looks at the inescapable strangeness of this work that is now one of the most heard and most moving pieces in the repertoire.

The spirit of Halloween hovers over Now Is the Time, Saturday, October 31 at 9 pm. Strings, bells, melodicas softly accompany waning desert sunlight: such is Drift of Rainbows by Dan Visconti. William Moylan's setting of the Yeats poem The Stolen Child tells an Erlkönig-like story: "Come away, O human child! / To the waters and the wild / With a faery, hand in hand, / For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand."

The violence in this Vietnam War film is noteworthy even among war films, and is controversial for a depiction of something no one has said they have ever witnessed: a scene where North Vietnamese soldiers force prisoners to play Russian roulette.

It was 201 years ago this week that Franz Schubert (1797-1828) wrote a song that would alter the course of music history. WRTI’s Kile Smith looks at “Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel,” an unassuming title for Schubert’s first masterpiece and the start of an entire genre of music.

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.