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.

Ways to Connect

Audio Pending...

We're counting down the days on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 19th at 9 pm. Less Than a Week Before Christmas is David Golub's work for chorus and orchestra: about the cold, about a friend. Morten Lauridsen contemplates the wonder of animals at the nativity manger in one of our time's most-sung pieces, O Magnum Mysterium.

Composer Jennifer Higdon becomes her own poet for Deep in the Night, pondering "this season of love with full brilliant lights." Daron Hagen combines two melodies we recognize with a beautiful one we don't—because he just wrote it—in a work for choir with cello, At Bethlehem Proper. Rounding out the choral works on the program is While All Things Were in Quiet Silence by Ned Rorem.

Two instrumental works find their way in, though. Advent has the same feeling that imbues Yearning, the lovely work for violin and strings by Shulamit Ran, dedicated to Yehudi Menuhin. For solo guitar is the suite of Rick Sowash, helping us count down the days, For an Old Friend at Christmas.

Call it post-Thanksgiving thoughts on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 12th at 9 pm. The recent feasts bring to mind A Festive Proclamation for organ by Samuel Adler which he wrote for celebrations by the National Symphony Orchestra. Marc Mellits gets real with Platter of Discontent, a delicious suite honoring—or decrying—various foods (it begins with The Seduction of Brie).

Frank Sinatra was born 100 years ago on December 12th, and there have been any number of stars in the entertainment world during that century. But WRTI’s Kile Smith looks at what truly sets him apart from all the rest.


He was awarded, and accepted, and acquainted with success. Samuel Barber had so much success that it might be more proper to say that he endured, rather than enjoyed it. Donal Henahan wrote in his New York Times obituary of the composer, “Samuel Barber was hounded by success. Probably no other American composer has ever enjoyed such early, such persistent and such long-lasting acclaim.”

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, December 5th, 5 to 6 pm on WRTI.

December 6th is Dave Brubeck’s birthday, and WRTI’s Kile Smith looks at the secret behind the legacy of this giant of jazz. Along with leading his Quartet for decades, 1959’s Time Out was the first jazz album to sell a million copies, and from that, Paul Desmond’s “Take Five” was not only their biggest hit, it is still the biggest jazz single in history. But what about Dave Brubeck’s playing?


In Jailhouse Rock, Elvis plays an ex-con rube hoping to make it in the music business. He’s dragged to a swanky party, where he’s wedged between society snobs who try to look intellectual and hip by discussing modern music. They toss around lingo like “dissonance” and “atonality,” and the names of some musicians, including that of Dave Brubeck. Elvis’s increasing discomfort wells up when the hostess asks his opinion. Rather than revealing his ignorance, he barks crudely at her and stalks out.

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.
 


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