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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Now Is the Time
2:11 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

We reflect on a legacy of greatness on Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 18th at 9 pm Eastern on the all-classical stream at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Yehudi Menuhin said this: "I look to music to bind and heal. I think the musician can be a trusted object, offering his fellow men solace, but also a reminder of human excellence. I believe as strongly as ever that our finite world turns on finite individual efforts to embody an ideal."

Steven Gerber's Spirituals for strings and Curt Cacioppo's Contrapuntal Fantasy on John Newton's "Amazing Grace" for piano spin the teardrop crystals of an American heritage in the sunlight of varied compositional languages. Leslie Adams sets African-American poets, including Langston Hughes, in Nightsongs. And in Stèle for solo violin, Karel Husa pays tribute to Menuhin, whose greatness went beyond music. Each of these works points us to ideals beyond our finite selves, something Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us of whenever we remember his legacy.

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Now Is the Time
2:20 pm
Fri January 10, 2014

Time with the Family on Now Is the Time

It's fathers and sons, mothers, sisters, and a child on Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 11th at 9 pm Eastern on the all-classical stream at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Jeremy Beck's String Quartet No. 2 has two movements—I. Fathers, and II. Sons—that regard affinity and opposition in warm and dramatic music. Jerome Kitzke bangs on a toy piano and chants wildly in The Animist Child, a passionate, beguiling work he wrote to celebrate a birth. In Sacred Sisters, Victoria Bond uses ancient chant to celebrate heroines of the Bible: Esther, Ruth, Judith.

Marc Satterwhite looks at the tragedies visited by Chile's Pinochet regime on its citizens, by focusing on The Widows of Calama, who searched the Atacama Desert for the bodies of the missing. Originally for contrabassoon and piano, Satterwhite reworked it for bass clarinet, and the show closes with another wind instrument, the Northumbrian smallpipes. Dick Hensold, in his medley of dances that include Dad's Fantastic! Jig, always seems to walk that edge between poignancy and joy.

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Now Is the Time
10:21 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Now Is the Time Turns 200!

It’s our 200th show and we’re celebrating on Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 4th at 9 pm! Judith Lang Zaimont starts us off in a poignant mood as we look back with Reflective Rag. The two pianists of Quattro Mani bring us Kindred Spirits of William Bland, the title summing up how we feel about all our contemporary American composers. Then another duo, of clarinets, brings us the fresh Aphorisms II of Ursula Mamlok.

Allen Shawn’s Nostalgic Pieces party with a waltz and a boogie-woogie, and David Wolfson’s Time and Tide (Benediction) marks the passage of the years with four cellos (multi-tracked by one player). Minton’s Playhouse by James Syler translates the jazz club to saxophone quartet and wind ensemble, the spirit of Charlie Parker hovering over this bopping concerto grosso.

Then we program a composer whose only other appearance on NITT was in Show #100. Kile Smith’s American Spirituals, Book 2, for cello and piano, blushingly closes out the celebrations. We’re grateful to all of you, composers and listeners, for keeping contemporary American music alive on WRTI!

If you're new to Now Is the Time, just go to wrti.org and click on the Listen: Classical button at the top. Day or night, that brings you the all-classical stream, and at 9 pm every Saturday, you'll hear Now Is the Time. In the Philadelphia area with an HD radio? Dial us up at 90.1 FM, HD2, or find all the frequencies here, depending on where you are, from the Shore to the Poconos to Harrisburg to Dover. Thanks for supporting American contemporary music on WRTI!

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Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection
2:05 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

1914: Machines and Dreams

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday Jan. 4th at 5 pm... In 1914, if you were in the market for the stuff that makes big things move—rope, sails, block and tackle gear, every kind of ship, railroad, or mill supply—you would’ve known George B. Carpenter & Co. of Chicago. Its predecessors went back to 1840. After burning down in the 1871 Great Fire it was rebuilt in a year. George Carpenter, who had been helping run the company, bought it outright in 1882.

His son John had music on his mind, not a manufacturing and wholesale business, and the family supported his evident gifts. John went to Harvard, was President of its Glee Club, and composed for Hasty Pudding larks. More seriously, he studied with John Knowles Paine, and then traveled to England and Rome, where he studied with Edward Elgar. He came back to Chicago in 1909 and composed, but also took on the day job he’d hold until his 1936 retirement, Vice President of George B. Carpenter & Co.

Perhaps machinery was in his blood after all, because in 1914 his creative breakthrough was an evocation of the baby carriage. Adventures in a Perambulator is a symphonia domestica relating a child’s point of view all the way from Envoiture! (All aboard!) to Dreams, the two sections we’ll hear (in between are a policeman, a hurdy-gurdy, a lake, and dogs). Carpenter’s skill was not lost on audiences and critics, who were charmed by his humor and light touch with a large orchestra. His precise program notes narrate the child’s inner voice, ending with: “It is pleasant to lie quite still and close my eyes, and listen to the wheels of my perambulator. How very large the world is. How many things there are!"

Across the ocean in 1914, England saw the premiere of a symphony by a composer who was already well regarded, Ralph Vaughan Williams. His 1909 Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and 1910 A Sea Symphony moved him beyond his successes editing folk music, Henry Purcell, and The English Hymnal. A London Symphony remains, out of his nine symphonies, the most popular.

After its premiere, he sent the score to Germany, to the conductor Fritz Busch, but it was lost in the turmoil of the World War. The composer then rewrote it from the orchestral parts, changing it greatly, for a 1920 performance under Albert Coates, who provided program notes to which the composer grudgingly agreed. Vaughan Williams insisted he did not have a story in mind when composing it, although he said one might perhaps call it Symphony by a Londoner.

That he composed a “symphony” at all is due to his good friend, the composer George Butterworth, who insisted he ought to. So he took sketches for a symphonic poem about London, worked them into four movements, and dedicated the music to Butterworth, who would die in that same World War, in 1916.

After the 1920 revision, Vaughan Williams reworked it again in the 1930s, and the version heard most often today is two-thirds the length of the original. The ending, Vaughan Williams suggested just before he died, was inspired by “Night and the Open Sea,” the last chapter of the 1909 novel of H. G. Wells, Tono-Bungay, where the machinery of empires and schemes, small and large, sink into dreams.

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Now Is the Time
6:07 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Christmas Daybreak

It's faith of all kinds in the midst of Christmas on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 28th at 9 pm—our new time, every Saturday night at 9 on WRTI-HD2 and the all-classical stream at wrti.org. Daron Hagen uses choir and cello lovingly to explore traditional carols in new ways, with Once in Royal David's City and the Sussex Carol. Then, the sparkling Now Ensemble brings transformations to life in David Crowell's Waiting in the Rain for Snow.

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Now Is the Time
2:27 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Winter Solstice, Winter Solace

We are on the cusp of winter on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 21st at 9 pm—our new time, every Saturday night at 9 on WRTI-HD2 and the all-classical stream at wrti.org. From the Philadelphia new-music choir The Crossing we hear Benjamin C. S. Boyle’s Three Carols for Wintertide, holding up for our consideration a rose, holly and ivy, and rosemary.

For Nothing is Fred Frith’s music considering the Buddha nature; it’s for contralto with the unusual string quartet of two violins, cello, and viola da gamba. Katherine Hoover paints the image of a Native American flutist in Winter Spirits, and Adrienne Albert offers the soft Winter Solace for saxophone and piano.

The start of a solstice reminds us of beginnings of all kinds, and the Symphony No. 1 of Steven R. Gerber makes a powerful statement with warmth and lyricism.

If you’re new to Now Is the Time, just click on the Listen: Classical button at the top of the page. Day or night, that brings you the all-classical stream, and at 9 pm every Saturday, you’ll hear Now Is the Time. In the Philadelphia area with an HD radio? Dial us up at 90.1 FM, HD2, or find all the frequencies here, depending on where you are, from the Shore to the Poconos to Harrisburg to Dover. Thanks for supporting American contemporary music on WRTI!

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Now Is the Time
5:56 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Mischievous, Menacing, and Minuetting Dances

Mischievous, menacing, or minuetting, it's dancing on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 7th at 9 pm—our new time, every Saturday night at 9 on WRTI-HD2 and the all-classical stream at wrti.org.

From her CD How She Danced comes Elena Ruehr's String Quartet No. 4. It includes, as do her other quartets, a dance—in this case, a minuet—among the four movements. There is always much going on beneath the surface of her music, but whether it's mathematics or literature, what we always hear is a focus on beautiful sound. Saxophone and clarinet comprise the sounding beauties of Perry Goldstein's Mischief. It pirouettes, dips, and delights on its way, and is over before we know it. We want to hear more.

Wanting more, desiring the other, and death are elements of opera; Daron Hagen brings them all together, to violent effect, in Bandanna, set on the U.S./Mexico border in the 1960s. Immigrants, law corrupted, and jealousy combine in this finely wrought yet roiling tragedy. We'll hear much of Act Two, where misunderstandings and machinations during a wedding dance propel the drama toward its conclusion.

Next week: Now Is the Time Show #200!

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Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection
5:59 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Shakespeare Via Verdi, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Edward German

Shakespeare Memorial, Free Library of Philadelphia

Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection broadcasts Saturday, December 7th, 2013, 5-6 pm on WRTI and wrti.org. Shakespeare continues to live, and if you were to name an orchestral work based on one of his plays, we wouldn’t blame you for coming up with one of the most popular works in the repertoire, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet. But it wouldn’t be Discoveries without a curve ball or three, so this month we offer another Fantasy-Overture of his, Hamlet.

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Now Is the Time
12:54 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

A Kennedy Portrait

It's an elegiac walk among portraits, surrounding the remembrance of JFK on Now Is the Time, Saturday, November 23rd at 9 pm—our new time, every Saturday night at 9 on WRTI-HD2 and the all-classical stream at wrti.org.

In Gallery for solo cello, Robert Muczynski takes us past paintings, similar to the how Mussorgsky does in Pictures at an Exhibition. A Kennedy Portrait for narrator and orchestra uses the words of President Kennedy and also some from the composer, William Kraft, in this work of exhilaration and hope.

From the CD Portraits & Elegies is Philip Lasser's Vocalise, poignant music for violin and piano. Returning to the single cello, Andrew Waggoner's Le Nom (Upperline) is a beautiful reminiscence of his hometown of New Orleans both before and after Hurricane Katrina. John Harbison walks us again through a gallery, but Six American Painters is more about the artists themselves—including Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer—rather than their work.

If you're new to Now Is the Time, just go to wrti.org and click on the Listen: Classical button at the top. Day or night, that brings you the classical stream, and at 9 pm every Saturday, you'll hear Now Is the Time. In the Philadelphia area with an HD radio? Dial us up at 90.1 FM, HD2, or find all the frequencies here, depending on where you are, from the Shore to the Poconos to Harrisburg to Dover. Thanks for supporting American contemporary music on WRTI!

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Now Is the Time
8:12 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Double Dance on Now Is the Time

  We connect through dance on Now Is the Time, Saturday, November 16th at 9 pm—our new time, every Saturday night at 9 on WRTI-HD2.

Easley Blackwood sets the stage with a Rondo Caprice for Flute and Guitar, then Mark Carlson keeps the guitar but switches to soprano saxophone in Two Ballads. Two rags by Brian Dykstra follow, Nancita and Noelito for pianists Nancy Roldán and Noel Lester, and then the Umgawa Rag, named for the trio who premiered it, alto saxophonist James Umble, pianist Carolyn Gadiel Warner, and violinist Stephen Warner.

Chuck Holdeman straddles the two worlds of Baroque and new music with a lovely Sonate en Trio. Two worlds and two works sandwich the Holdeman music: from the CD Double Dance: Classical & Jazz Connections II we hear Prelude VII and Prelude III of Bill Dobbins.

If you're new to Now Is the Time, just go to wrti.org and click on the Listen: Classical button at the top. Day or night, that brings you the classical stream, and at 9 pm every Saturday, you'll hear Now Is the Time. In the Philadelphia area with an HD radio? Dial us up at 90.1 FM, HD2, or find all the frequencies here, depending on where you are, from the Shore to the Poconos to Harrisburg to Dover. Thanks for supporting American contemporary music on WRTI!

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