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
10:56 pm
Sat August 10, 2013

In Bone-Colored Light on Now Is the Time

from Jerome Kitzke: In Bone-Colored Light

Stark contrasts play against each other on Now Is the Time, Sunday, August 11th at 10 pm. Zeitgeist performs In Bone-Colored Light, Jerome Kitzke's illumination of a late afternoon in an American landscape. Gabriela Lena Frank opens up the Indian and Spanish cultures of Peru for "Holy Mary, let's go dance," or Ccollanan Maria, a sighing, gospel-inflected work sung by San Francisco's Volti.

Maggi Payne finds music in sounds from the environment, processes them electronically, and attractive surprises result in System Test (Fire and Ice). And from Curt Cacioppo's recent CD Italia, Network for New Music performs Colomba Scarlatta della Libia, or Red Dove of Libya, a bubbling work of shadow and light.

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Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection
9:50 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

1935: Ginastera, Berg, Prokofiev on Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection

Alban Berg

Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection broadcasts Saturday, August 3rd, 5 to 6 pm. The year 1935 was a critical one for three composers at different stages of their careers. Sergei Prokofiev was just about to move back to the Soviet Union. Alban Berg (pictured) stopped work on his opera Lulu when the daughter of a friend died; he composed his astounding Violin Concerto in her memory, but would not live out the year.

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Now Is the Time
12:10 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

For All, on Now Is the Time

from W.A. Mathieu: For All

Unusual ensembles blend their voices on Now Is the Time, Sunday, August 4th at 10 pm. W.A. Mathieu vaulted into stardom among jazz cognoscenti when, at 22, he wrote all the arrangements for the 1959 Stan Kenton album Standards in Silhouette. He went on to help found Chicago's Second City improv troupe, and writes music and books melding Western and Eastern traditions.

For All sets Gary Snyder's original Buddhist- and Native American-tinged poetry, as well as a translation of Chinese poet Han Shan. The early-music Galax Quartet, combining gut-stringed violins, cello, and viola da gamba, accompanies contralto Karen Clark.

Ezra Laderman writes for an orchestra of cellos in Parisot, named for the director of the Yale Cellos, Aldo Parisot. Laderman further subtitles the five movements for cellists Gregor Piatigorsky, Pablo Casals, Emanuel Feuermann, János Starker (who died in April 2013), and Parisot. A cello ensemble produces one of the most beautiful out-of-the-box sounds in music, and Laderman varies the texture and motion exquisitely.

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Now Is the Time
10:00 pm
Sun July 28, 2013

Neither Anvil nor Pulley on Now Is the Time

Dan Trueman and the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle

from Dan Trueman: neither Anvil nor Pulley

Out of machinery, music on Now Is the Time, Sunday, July 28th at 10 pm. Dan Trueman combines hi- and lo-tech into gear that audibly shines in neither Anvil nor Pulley. He founded and directs the Princeton Laptop Orchestra, but fell in love with the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle (pictured). That sound, and its rustic, dust-raising energy infuses this work. nAnP features that fiddle, Trueman's computing expertise, a turntable, and his brilliant collaborators So Percussion.

A computer is a tool "that hides its purpose," Trueman says, but a piano is a machine we think we know well. One of the more difficult tasks in composing is to write a work for two pianos that make both pianos sound necessary. Riffing in Tandem succeeds by joining the lyricism of Rodney Rogers with virtuosity that is always musical. How can music come from machines, even machines we know well?

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Now Is the Time
1:08 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Smoke and Mirrors on Now Is the Time

from Van Stiefel: Smoke and Mirrors

Heat isn't all there is to summer on Now Is the Time, Sunday, July 21st at 10 pm. Gao Hong not only composed Guangxi Impressions, but also plays the pipa, or Chinese lute, on her work, along with the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet. It includes Summer Cicada and Celebrating the Harvest. Ronald Perera follows with Five Summer Songs of Emily Dickinson, looking at changing gardens, jostling winds, and reveries.

Two composer/guitarists round out the program. Van Stiefel always wondered why there weren't more violin/guitar duos in the literature, so he wrote one, Smoke and Mirrors, using violin with electric guitar. John King's Lightning Slide imagines blues for the string quartet Ethel. Its movements are Swing, Sweet, and Sweat: if heat isn't all there is to summer, sometimes it just seems that way.

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Now Is the Time
8:39 pm
Sun July 14, 2013

The $100 Guitar Project on Now Is the Time

from The $100 Guitar Project. Joe Berger: D & B Eurotunnel

Two guys buy a cheap guitar and get all their friends to write for it on Now Is the Time, Sunday, July 14th at 10 pm. Nick Didkovsky and Chuck O'Meara set some ground rules: keep the guitar for a week, don't alter it, and pay to send it to the next person. Other than that, just have fun. Out of two CDs' worth of short pieces on the album they call The $100 Guitar Project, we'll hear a dozen, ranging from metal to metaphysical, from downtown to out there.

Keeping to the guitar motif is George Crumb's paean to the dogs in his family over the years, Mundus Canis for solo guitar and percussion. There's also lots of guitar and percussion in a live excerpt from Annie Gosfield's written-and-improvised Daughters of the Industrial Revolution. David Leisner's trio for flute, guitar, and cello sounded vaguely Italian to him, so he gave it an Italian title, Trittico. Finally, Steve Bowman assembles his keyboard/computer electronica from live performances; Gutterball sounds all the world like electric guitar to us; other than that, it's just fun.

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Now Is the Time
8:32 pm
Sun July 7, 2013

Numbering the Stars on Now Is the Time

from Dick Hensold: Zoë Cansdale of Hartburn

We reflect on the Battle of Gettysburg’s 150th Anniversary on Now Is the Time, Sunday, July 7th at 10 pm. Warren Swenson sets the Civil War poetry of Moby-Dick author Herman Melville in Battle Pieces. Infused with the musical accents of the time and with riveting word pictures, Battle Pieces honors, in Lincoln’s undying phrase, “the last full measure of devotion” given at Gettysburg.

Dedications of other sorts round out the program. In the short brass piece Numbering the Stars, Rodney Rogers quotes the 19th-century hymn “Wondrous Love.” Sarah Meneely Kyder sets a poem of her sister’s, using text from their father in World War II, in Letter from Italy, 1944. With Zoë Cansdale of Hartburn, Dick Hensold remembers the life of a young woman taken too soon, in music for pipes that is both poignant and uplifting.

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Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection
10:57 am
Sat July 6, 2013

Englishmen in Germany on Fleisher Discoveries, July 6

Hoch Conservatory Residence Hall

Joseph Hoch was an influential lawyer in 19th-century Frankfurt whose father had been mayor, and whose mother and wife both were of Swiss aristocracy. Money he had plenty of, but no children, so he decided to leave his fortune to the founding of a Frankfurt conservatory for the arts. The Hoch Conservatory began training students in 1878, almost four years to the day after Joseph’s death. With faculty luminaries such as Clara Schumann, it quickly rose to be a leading German institution, competing with Leipzig and Berlin for students from Europe and elsewhere.

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Now Is the Time
9:42 pm
Sun June 30, 2013

Ancient Stories on Now Is the Time, June 30

Lake Avernus, near Naples

from Matthew H. Fields: Simchas, from Sages of Chelm

Stories of suffering and joy define our culture on Now Is the Time, Sunday, June 30th at 10 pm. Elena Ruehr’s Averno sets the poetry of Pulitzer-winning Louise Glück, the 2003-04 U.S. Poet Laureate. The door to the underworld in Roman myth is at Lake Averno or Avernus. Averno the cantata explores cycles of death and growth in the story of Demeter’s daughter Persephone and her abduction by Hades.

Chelm in Poland is the venue for countless tales of Jewish humor, such as the man who leaves for a new city, gets turned around during the night, and walks back to his hometown thinking it’s a new place. There are three sections to Sages of Chelm by Matthew H. Fields; we’ll have time to hear the last. Following I. Khutzpah and II. Tsores (“Troubles”), we’ll listen to the happy resolution in Simchas, which means “Joy.”

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Now is the Time
10:39 pm
Sun June 16, 2013

Now Is the Time Theme Music

Kile Smith: Now is the Time, Theme Music

Now is the Time—contemporary American music on WRTI-HD2 and online, Saturday nights at 9—ought to have theme music, I thought in the weeks leading up to our first broadcast on June 1st, 2008. I started looking through works of mine, as I did with the theme for Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, to see if anything would fit.

I looked over everything that had survived ritual burning up to that point, and the only piece that came close was a curious Four Hymns for Four Guitars, written in, wow, 1985 for the amiable Philadelphia Guitar Quartet. Wonderful guys all, astute musicians, and very helpful when I was working on it.

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