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

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.

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.

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