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
12:44 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Even Odd Pieces on Now Is the Time

from Janika Vandervelde: Genesis V

We’re having fun with numbers on Now Is the Time, Sunday, May 12th at 10 pm. Four dances for piano is what Keith Carpenter calls An even number of odd pieces, and Sketches Set Seven, also for piano, is Ed Bland’s contribution to what he calleds “urban classical funk.”

Mr. Bland passed away after this show was produced, so we honor his memory with this look into his wide-ranging career.

Charles Wuorinen’s Dodecadactyl is a fun two-guitar romp through the twelve pitches, and from her set of life-rhythm-inspired Genesis works is Janika Vandervelde’s Genesis V, for four guitars. For two sopranos is the riveting Madrigal III by Sergio Cervetti, setting a text from pre-Columbian Mexico.

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Now is the Time
11:34 pm
Sat May 4, 2013

Concerto da Camera on Now Is the Time

from John Williams: Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra

Concertos for low instruments bookend a concerto for orchestra on Now Is the Time, Sunday, May 5th at 10 pm. Gunther Schuller conducts Orchestra 2001 in his Concerto da Camera, a classical-sized work with twists. Carter Brey’s singing tone dives deep into Steven Gerber’s Cello Concerto, bringing up a work of warmth and beauty.

The program opens with a perky yet challenging Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra by John Williams. Although he’s known worldwide for his decades of award-winning film scores, he’s written many concert pieces—including concertos. This one has become a repertoire piece for tubists since he composed it in 1985.

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Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection
4:10 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Prokofiev Moves Back to Russia

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, May 4th at 5 pm...

Sergei Prokofiev lived in Paris in 1936 but longed for Russia. He had never relinquished his Soviet citizenship in the years he was abroad; since 1918 he lived in the U.S., Germany, and France. He toured America, Europe, and the USSR often, playing piano in and conducting his growing repertoire of increasingly popular works.

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Now is the Time
12:25 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Night Cadenza on Now Is the Time

from Terry Riley: Cadenza on the Night Plain

It’s different ways to say good night on Now is the Time, Sunday, April 28th at 10 pm. Alex Freeman’s solo piano Night on the Prairies leads to a sextet in Jeremy Beck’s In Flight until Mysterious Night (and do we hear Steely Dan in there?). Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble then runs with the Night of the Flying Horses of Osvaldo Golijov.

Then, two quartets. Night Blossoms of Mary Jane Leach is a haiku for four singers, and the four string instruments of Kronos play Terry Riley’s long-breathed Cadenza on the Night Plain, out into that good night.

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Now is the Time
12:12 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Somewhere on the Way, on Now Is the Time

from Miguel del Aguila: Pacific Serenade

We’re traveling far and enjoying the journey on Now is the Time, Sunday, April 21st at 10 pm. From his CD Stream of Stars, Dylan Mattingly’s Atlas of Somewhere on the Way to Howland Island imagines the last flight of Amelia Earhart, somewhere over the Pacific, finishing with the movement “Islanded in a Stream of Stars.”

James Aikman’s CD Tremors From a Far Shore yields his Violin Sonata No. 2, a large-breathed work opening with a piano-centered Habanera. It also includes a second-movement Homage to his grandmother. Miguel del Aguila’s softly delicious Pacific Serenade leaves us wanting to hear more from him, as we continue on our way.

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CD Selections
6:34 am
Mon April 15, 2013

Kile Smith Recommends: Francis Pott, In the Heart of Things

Composer Francis Pott

Kile's review including music from Francis Pott: In the Heart of Things

Whether communication is too easy, or articulation is too difficult, our time is not a time of counterpoint. Instead of corresponding, we post or tweet; instead of reasoning, we shout and repeat, louder and louder. Music is often an event or a stepping-up of rungs of events: hooks and ladders, clanging past, looking for a fire.

In the Heart of Things: Choral Music of Francis Pott
Commotio. Matthew Berry, conductor
Naxos 8.572739

The choral music of Francis Pott, however, flows by, refreshingly contrapuntal. That joy in the working of voices is particularly evident in his 2012 CD, In the Heart of Things. If counterpoint seems anti-modern, he admits it, and points to Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, and other past masters of the polyphonic Mass as models. That’s appropriate, because In the Heart of Things is a collection of his choral music revolving around the most substantial work on the recording, his Mass for Eight Parts.

From the Kyrie through the Agnus Dei, this Mass is a triumph of intricate beauty. Upper, middle, and lower streams of voices glide by and mingle, their complexity unnoticed because they shimmer. Sometimes they sneak in, as the “Hosanna” does at first in the Sanctus, or roll in waves, gathering strength as at the end of that movement.

Sometimes the power is overwhelming, as at the end of the Gloria, the final “Amen” surging, unexpected, rank upon rank. Pott composed the Agnus Dei in memory of someone he didn’t know, a past singer of the choir that commissioned this. His gentle, pointed lyricism melts the voices into a sea of comfort.

Francis Pott was raised in the English chorister tradition, and knows this repertoire from the inside. His setting of a familiar text, such as Balulalow (known by many from Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols), or the new Mary’s Carol (Pott wrote this in memory of his father-in-law), always balances freshness of expression with aptness to the language.

His Lament honors a soldier killed in Afghanistan. Using the poem of Wilfrid Wilson Gibson, “But we, how shall we turn to little things / And listen to the birds… nor feel the heart-break in the heart of things,” we know the composer feels deeply what we also feel. This fellow-feeling is at the heart of artistry.

Francis Pott weaves a living counterpoint of music and emotion because he himself has sung it. His music breathes the life of tradition, but it is ever fresh, ever modern.

Now is the Time
11:11 pm
Sat April 13, 2013

A Boy and a Girl on Now Is the Time

from Michael McDermott: Gate

It really is spring, and our thoughts turn to... Now is the Time, Sunday, April 14th at 10 pm. Why not make up a story, and let the boys start. Eric Whitacre's emotionally surprising A Boy and a Girl leads us to the fresh Gate of Michael McDermott. A Charles Wuorinen Divertimento, bracing and lively, hints at—

Wait; now it's the girls' turn—a Tell-Tale Fantasy, perhaps, here told by Jane Brockman. Then six multi-tracked trumpets blast us into Lois Vierk's brilliant Cirrus, and all that's left, after all that story, is a single human voice. Joelle Wallach brings in a tenor to sing up into the silence. It really is spring.

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Now is the Time
1:20 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

An Interview With MAD MEN Composer David Carbonara

The popular AMC series Mad Men is now in its 6th season. Listen back to a revealing and humorous interview with David Carbonara from March, 2012, as he shares the inside story on how he writes music for Mad Men, how creator Matthew Weiner chooses the '60s songs, and how it's all mixed together to make a hit TV series.

David, a former trombonist, spices the show with jazz-tinged music that lends flavor as much as the crisp dialogue and mod decor.

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Now is the Time
1:05 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

As If This Were Spring on Now Is the Time

from Carlos Carrillo: Como si fuera la primavera (As if this were spring)

We're still waiting for spring to really get here on Now is the Time, Sunday, April 7th at 10 pm. Carlos Carrillo's plummy Como si fuera la primavera (As if this were spring) features clarinet, and Emma Lou Diemer's Before Spring, the violin.

Jason Barabba's Conjecture spins clarinet with orchestra, and eighth blackbird performs Thomas Albert's Thirteen Ways, his consideration of the Wallace Stevens poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," which inspired their name. And what about that eighth way? "I know noble accents / And lucid, inescapable rhythms; / But I know, too, / That the blackbird is involved / In what I know." Maybe they know when spring will arrive.

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Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection
4:09 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Edvard Grieg Discovers Norway

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, April 6th at 5 pm...

“Edvard Grieg,” they were saying in Germany and in Denmark. It was the name of that young pianist/composer from Norway they were noticing, for he was starting to become somebody. But then something odd happened. He discovered Norway.

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