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 kilesmith.com.

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

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Philadelphia Music Makers, March 29, 5 PM
1:28 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Composer Jennifer Higdon Tells Her Story: Part 2

Jennifer Higdon and her cat, Beau
Candace diCarlo

The door closed behind Jennifer Higdon. She was in the office of her college conducting professor, Robert Spano, seeking advice about what to do. She had just heard back from the Curtis Institute of Music - they had accepted her application for graduate studies, but so had other music schools. She needed guidance.  "I'm not letting you out of here," Spano said, until she agreed to accept the spot from Curtis.

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Philadelphia Music Makers, March 22 at 5 PM
10:37 am
Sun March 22, 2015

Composer Jennifer Higdon Tells Her Story: Part 1

Jennifer Higdon and her cat, Beau
Candace diCarlo

“Kind of incredible, isn’t it?” says Jennifer Higdon. She has won a Pulitzer and a Grammy, her orchestral work blue cathedral has been performed more than 500 times, she is professor of composition at the Curtis Institute of Music, and is one of the world’s most-performed living classical composers. But when she arrived at college, she hadn’t heard of Igor Stravinsky. “I knew nothing,” she said.

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WRTI Arts Desk
10:52 am
Mon March 16, 2015

The Story About Gustav Holst's 'The Planets'

One of the most loved and exciting works in the orchestral repertoire is The Planets by Gustav Holst. But, as WRTI’s Kile Smith reports, the way we hear it now is not the form in which audiences first heard it.

For such an immediately successful work, and for one that is central to the orchestral repertoire, The Planets by Gustav Holst took a long time to get off the ground.

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Philadelphia Music Makers, March 15 at 6 PM
4:46 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

Jazz Vocalist Alita Moses: Singing the Standards to Montreux and Back

When Alita Moses stepped onto the stage for the finals of the 2014 Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition in Switzerland last July, she had come a long way from West Hartford, Connecticut, and a long way from Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, where she is a senior jazz vocal major.

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Now Is the Time
3:45 pm
Fri March 6, 2015

All Viola on Now Is the Time

duoJalal

The spotlight is on the alto of the string section on Now Is the Time, Saturday, March 7th at 9 pm. John Harbison's sumptuous Viola Concerto starts the program off, and then duoJalal percussionist Yousif Sheronick turns a Philip Glass solo viola work into a Duo for Solo Percussion and Viola, just as he would have when he played in the Philip Glass Ensemble.

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Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection
5:59 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Karl Goldmark Had Character Enough

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday March 1st, 2015, 5-6 pm... Continuing our survey of the year 1915, we find one of the few people of the time—composers, critics, or audience members—who liked both Brahms and Wagner, and that's Karl Goldmark. A Hungarian composer trying to make his way in Vienna, he took on other jobs in and related to music. One of those jobs was music criticism.

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Philadelphia Music Makers
1:56 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Flutist Megan Emigh: Constantly Discovering the Treasures in Music

Megan Emigh is principal flute with Symphony in C.

At first, “I really wanted to play the clarinet,” admits flutist Megan Emigh (pronounced AY-mee), who is principal flute for Symphony in C. She explains that the idea was to start, at age 4, on flute, and then switch later to the differently pitched clarinet, where a player has to learn how to transpose. But she liked the flute (even though her older sister already played one). “I never switched!”

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Now Is the Time
12:26 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Elusive Dreams on Now Is the Time

It’s all whispers and shadows on Now Is the Time, Saturday, February 28th at 9 pm. Deliciously riffing on Shakespeare takes us to where comedy, tears, and romance meet, in Daron Hagen’s Much Ado for orchestra. JG Thirlwell produces sweeping cinematic drama in his Brooklyn studio with 10 Ton Shadow, and the glorious sounds of Chanticleer revolve William Byrd around Walt Whitman’s “Whispers of Heavenly Death” in Whispers by Steven Stucky.

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project performs Lewis Spratlan’s Apollo and Daphne Variations, an extensive metamorphosis on the myth of change to escape predation. Carleton Macy closes the program with Elusive Dreams for saxophone quartet.

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Now Is the Time
9:20 pm
Sat February 21, 2015

Many Times on Now Is the Time

Ancia Saxophone Quartet

Everything's numbered on Now Is the Time, Saturday, February 21st at 9 pm. Rudy Davenport comes up with Seven Innocent Dances for harpsichord, and for piano are the Bagatelles of Paul Chihara, subtitled Twice Seven Haiku.

The Ancia Saxophone Quartet performs David Bixler's Heptagon, and Joel Chadabe electronically modifies the playing of Esther Lamneck on the tarógató, the Hungarian single-reed instrument related to the saxophone, in Many Times Esther. Lucas Ligeti writes about three places he's visited in Triangulation, for the electronic percussion instrument called marimba lumina.

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Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection
5:46 am
Wed February 4, 2015

1915: Waldteufel and Taneyev

Émile Waldteufel

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, 5-6 pm... One hundred years ago, and the world was in upheaval. The 19th century was fast becoming a memory by 1915. The previous generation’s nationalism in classical music had catapulted new languages into the concert hall, but it was now seen as irrelevant, corrosive, or at best, old-fashioned. Nationalism was now viewed through the War, in its second year, called “Great” by some and “World” by others. In a few decades it would take on a name even more horrible than World War; it would be called the “First.”

Two very different composers who died in 1915 signify the passing century remarkably well. One was the friend of royalty; another, the friend of musical royalty.

Émile Waldteufel’s violinist brother Léon won admission to the Paris Conservatory, and the father Louis moved the entire family there, from Strasbourg in the Alsatian region of France. It was a smart move, for Louis Waldteufel conducted his own successful orchestra, and found even more fame in the country’s capital city. Émile went on to study piano at the Conservatory, soloed with the Waldteufel Orchestra, and at 27, became the court pianist for Empress Eugénie.

But the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71 greatly altered royal life. Waldteufel continued to play for small elite gatherings but was otherwise little-known. The Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII), however, attended one of those events, loved a little waltz he heard, and invited the piano-playing composer, Émile Waldteufel, to London. It was there that he became famous, writing dances that are still heard today, including Les Patineurs, or The Skater Waltz. He composed and conducted throughout Europe and retired to Paris. After a hugely successful career, he died when Debussy and Stravinsky were au courant.

Sergei Taneyev was also a pianist—a brilliant one—and a music critic and voracious scholar of seemingly any subject that came along. Mathematics, philosophy, science, and history all came under his intense interest, but it was composition that was his dearest love. It expressed itself for him in rigorous counterpoint, the exacting placement of note against note and line against line. Large washes of sound or simple folk tunes evoking a Russian mythos little interested him. Bach and Mozart were to be revered.

Tchaikovsky, 16 years older than Taneyev and one of his best friends, nevertheless feared his criticism. The world-famous composer would ask him sincerely to tell him what he thought of a certain work, and Taneyev obliged, in brutal frankness. He rubbed other composers the wrong way, but his friendship with Tchaikovsky remained undiminished, if needing, here and there, a couple of days’ cooling off. Taneyev, in fact, was the soloist for the Moscow premiere of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, and gave the Russian premiere of the Second as well as the world premiere of the Third.

Their outlook was indeed similar, and after Tchaikovsky’s death Taneyev completed and edited some of the unfinished works. Searching for a more international or cosmopolitan expression, they had not bought into the Russianism of Balakirev or Mussorgsky. But Taneyev’s Suite de Concert, really a violin concerto, is his most famous work, and is filled with, ironically, folk-like beauty. A heart attack killed him as he recuperated from pneumonia he caught attending the funeral of another world-famous composer, Scriabin. 1915 was certainly a year of upheaval.

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