Kile Smith

Classical Host

Kile Smith hosts the contemporary American music program Now Is the Time on Sundays at 10 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, teaching music history at Cairn University, music notation at Temple University, or 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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Now Is the Time
9:44 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Sound Moves Blues on Now Is the Time

from Paul Epstein: Three Sonnets

We move beyond autumnal blues, should we have them, on Now Is the Time, Sunday, September 29th at 10 pm. Saxophone, clarinet, and piano turn up the heat in Robert Aldridge's Sound Moves Blues, while Patrick Beckman honors blues tradition on the piano in Blues. Laos, Greece, Bolivia, Bulgaria, and the Tuskegee Institute's Gospel sound all inform Matthew Davidson's wide-ranging Etudes for Piano, Book 1.

Lisa Bielawa calls forth text of Jeremiah in her elegiac Lamentations for a city, a muted but compelling work for chorus and English horn. And then Philadelphia's Paul Epstein works through Isolation, Rapport, and Threnody in Three Sonnets, on words sent to him by a poet who heard his music. How lovely for that to happen, and what warm and tender songs these are, on this cusp of autumn.

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Now Is the Time
11:50 am
Sat September 21, 2013

A Wind of Fall on Now Is the Time

from James DeMars: Colors Fall

It’s a piquant greeting to autumn on Now Is the Time, Sunday, September 22nd at 10 pm. Adolphus Hailstork’s Romance No. 2, “Amoroso” from his CD As Falling Leaves features viola, while Colors Fall by James DeMars is a juicy work for flute and saxophone. Stephen Yip’s orchestral Raining in Autumn elicits longing cadenzas from the solo violin.

The song cycle A Wind of Fall is a setting of the poetry of Léonie Adams (Poet Laureate 1948–49) with warm and lucid music by Joel Mandelbaum. Finally, Russell Platt’s Autumn Music for violin and piano carries summer into fall with writing that is both luscious and bright.

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WRTI 60th Anniversary Limited-Edition CDs
12:06 am
Thu September 19, 2013

60th Anniversary Classical CD Highlight: Thompson, Alleluia

Randall Thompson

from Randall Thompson: Alleluia
Randall Thompson's Alleluia, performed by Voices of Ascension, Dennis Keene, conductor, is featured on CD 2 in the WRTI 60th Anniversary Classical 3-CD set.

From Randall Thompson, then Director of the Curtis Institute of Music, Serge Koussevitzky wanted a choral fanfare, loud and festive, for the opening of the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood. But Thompson couldn’t do festive, not in July 1940. Evil was spreading in Europe, and France had fallen the month before.

Over five days Thompson took the word “Alleluia”—literally, “Praise the Lord”—and turned it on its head, just as (he said later) it is in the Book of Job: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Thompson calls this a sad piece, this slow and insistent six-minute layered intoning of “Alleluia,” ending in “Amen.” It’s an atypical fanfare, but the Thompson Alleluia is one of the most beloved choral works of all time.

Check out all of the 60th anniversary Classical CD highlights here!

Contribute today at the $160 level and we'll thank you with our limited-edition WRTI 60th Anniversary CDs. Choose either our Classical (3 CDs) or Jazz (2 CDs) sets with notes from your favorite hosts. Pledge Here, and Thanks! 

Now Is the Time
7:41 pm
Sun September 15, 2013

Some Jazz at the End of Summer on Now Is the Time

It's good-bye to summer with a little—and more than a little—jazz on Now Is the Time, Sunday, September 15th at 10 pm. Quartet San Francisco starts off the program with Jeremy Cohen's summery Tango Toscana. Saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa honors his heritage and also the victims of 9/11 in Are There Clouds in India? Bassist John Patitucci works grooves into Scenes for Viola and Percussion, and Linda Robbins Coleman spins out a piano rag in Bill’s Song.

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WRTI 60th Anniversary Limited-Edition CDs
11:18 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

60th Anniversary Classical CD Highlight: Myers, Cavatina (Theme from The Deer Hunter)

from Stanley Myers: Cavatina

The Cavatina by Stanley Myers, used as the theme to The Deer Hunter, performed by guitarist Norbert Kraft, is featured on CD 3 in the WRTI 60th Anniversary Classical 3-CD set.

Film composer Stanley Myers scored The Walking Stick in 1970, and then guitarist John Williams convinced him to work up one bit of it for guitar. Williams played it eight years later on the sound track of one of the greatest movies of all time, The Deer Hunter.

Juxtaposing this bittersweet song against the struggle with brutality and love—in Southeast Asian jungles and Pennsylvania mountains—is as piercing now as it was in the years following the Vietnam War. Norbert Kraft performs the solo guitar arrangement with a graceful, glowing sound. 

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WRTI 60th Anniversary Limited-Edition CDs
7:08 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

60th Anniversary Classical CD Highlight: Finzi, Eclogue

from Gerald Finzi: Eclogue for Piano and Strings

Gerald Finzi's Eclogue for Piano and Strings, performed by Peter Donohoe, piano, and the Northern Sinfonia conducted by Howard Griffiths, is featured on CD 2 in the WRTI 60th Anniversary Classical 3-CD set.

When the boy was seven, his father died. Three brothers died. His first composition teacher was killed in WWI. He devoured poetry, wrote music, moved to the country, walked for hours in solitude. He cultivated apple trees and cataloged and published a sick friend’s music. At 50 he learned he had Hodgkin’s disease; he wouldn’t live out the decade.

From this seemingly melancholy life Gerald Finzi sculpted music of soft, shimmering beauty. He never finished a piano concerto, but after his death one movement of it was published as Eclogue. The dictionary calls “eclogue” pastoral poetry. This is the essence of Gerald Finzi. 

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WRTI 60th Anniversary Limited-Edition CDs
6:54 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

60th Anniversary Classical CD Highlight: Biebl, Ave Maria

from Franz Biebl: Ave Maria

Franz Biebl's Ave Maria, performed by LundCantores Cathedrales, Eva Svanholm Bohlin, conductor, is featured on CD 2 in the WRTI 60th Anniversary Classical 3-CD set.

In 1964 a German fireman asked Franz Biebl, his church organist, to write a piece for the men’s choir at the firehouse. He did, they sang it, and it was forgotten. A few years later, though, Biebl, directing music at a radio station, showed it to the touring Cornell University Glee Club. They took it back to the U.S. It started to be known, and when Chanticleer recorded it, it became a worldwide hit.

Biebl and others have arranged his Ave Maria for different ensembles, vocal and instrumental (the radiant, surging harmonies transport alike a mixed choir or a drum and bugle corps) but the sound of the original double men’s choir version is unmatched. 

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WRTI 60th Anniversary Limited-Edition CDs
4:52 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

60th Anniversary Classical CD Highlight: Mozart, Ave Verum Corpus

Joos van Wassenhove, The Institution of the Eucharist, 1473-75

from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Ave Verum Corpus

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Ave verum corpus, performed by the Kosice Teachers’ Choir and Camerata Cassovia, conducted by Johannes Wildner, is featured on CD 1 in the WRTI 60th Anniversary Classical 3-CD set.

Mozart wrote this for a church musician friend of his, for the Feast of Corpus Christi. “Hail, true Body” is sung at the central moment of the Catholic liturgy, but is here so simple, so self-effacing, that it almost sneaks by. The melody is nearly too sweet, the harmonies stay put, the bass line doesn’t travel much, the voices move together. But at “May it be for us a foretaste in the trial of death,” Mozart holds back the tenors and basses—just for a space.

When they enter, oh so quietly, repeating the women’s “may it be,” Mozart’s genius detonates the mysterious celebration of the power of suffering. He wrote this in June, 1791. In December he would be dead. Ave verum corpus may be the most stunningly compact explosion of music ever composed.

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WRTI 60th Anniversary Limited-Edition CDs
4:37 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

60th Anniversary Classical CD Highlight: Lauridsen, O Magnum Mysterium

from Domenico Ghirlandaio, Nativity, c.1480

from Morten Lauridsen: O Magnum Mysterium

Morten Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium, performed by the Elora Festival Singers, Noel Edison, conductor, is featured on CD 1 in the WRTI 60th Anniversary Classical 3-CD set.

“O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament, that animals should see the newborn Lord, lying in a manger. Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia!” This text was first chanted by monks in the cold, pre-dawn hours before Christmas mornings centuries ago. Now, the mystical, soaring music of Morten Lauridsen warms millions worldwide.

Simple in structure and harmony, yet quietly overwhelming, the Lauridsen O Magnum Mysterium transcends style with its luminously expressive writing. Morten Lauridsen is one of the most-sung choral composers in America and around the world, and this work is a fine example why.

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CD Selections
2:11 pm
Mon September 9, 2013

Kile Smith Suggests: Johannes Brahms: A German Requiem

Johannes Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem
Berlin Philharmonic, Thomas Quasthoff, Dorothea Röschmann, Simon Rattle

It starts in regions below your feet where basses and cellos and violas dwell, this irresistible lava-stream of a requiem. With none of the thundering fear of Verdi’s, it begins in blessing and ends in comfort. Brahms chose the biblical texts himself, in German, and told a friend it might simply be called a “human Requiem.” Emphasizing peace over judgment, only Death is judged, leaving all else to glow with life.

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