Now is the Time

Saturday, 9 to 10 pm on HD-2 and the Classical Stream

Contemporary American music is being recorded all the time, and Now is the Time to take a listen and explore the music of American composers today. All types...all styles...listen to contemporary American music every Saturday night with host and composer Kile Smith.

Lines point every which way on Now Is the Time, Saturday, February 6th at 9 pm. Mathew Rosenblum starts us off with Sharpshooter for orchestra, and then we scale it way back to Steven Stucky’s Dialogs for solo cello, from Caroline Stinson’s CD Lines.

Music comes in threes and twos on Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 30th at 9 pm. Ursula Mamlok’s music is always smart, always compelling, and in Three Part Fugue and Three Bagatelles she offers us solo piano works three decades apart. Joseph Fennimore’s piano writing also appears twice, with Three Pieces and, from his 24 Romances, the Third.

Spheres, of sorts, are in line for Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 23rd at 9 pm. A solo piano chases itself canonically in all in due time by Nils Vigeland; Jenny Q Chai is the pianist. The Infinite Sphere is the name Lawrence Dillon gives to his Fourth String Quartet. He spins rondos and rounds within two movements, hailing a Blaise Pascal quote: “Infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”

New is the word of the day on Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 9th at 9 pm. David Ludwig set The New Colossus, the famous words by Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty, after 9/11, and its timeless message always resonates. From David Starobin’s New Music with Guitar, Vol. 8 is the always smart and attractive music of Paul Lansky; we’ll hear his Partita. James Primosch gets down with “Daddy-O’s New Groove,” the last movement from his Sonata-Fantasia for piano and synthesizer, here played by the brilliant (and Grammy®-Award winning) Lambert Orkis.

One of the hottest new Philadelphia composers is hardly new. Andrew Rudin is well into his 70s, and was a fixture for decades teaching at the University of the Arts. He recently had an instant hit with his piano trio Circadia, and now talks to the Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns about his post-retirement creative renaissance.

Audio Pending...

We're counting down the days on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 19th at 9 pm. Less Than a Week Before Christmas is David Golub's work for chorus and orchestra: about the cold, about a friend. Morten Lauridsen contemplates the wonder of animals at the nativity manger in one of our time's most-sung pieces, O Magnum Mysterium.

Composer Jennifer Higdon becomes her own poet for Deep in the Night, pondering "this season of love with full brilliant lights." Daron Hagen combines two melodies we recognize with a beautiful one we don't—because he just wrote it—in a work for choir with cello, At Bethlehem Proper. Rounding out the choral works on the program is While All Things Were in Quiet Silence by Ned Rorem.

Two instrumental works find their way in, though. Advent has the same feeling that imbues Yearning, the lovely work for violin and strings by Shulamit Ran, dedicated to Yehudi Menuhin. For solo guitar is the suite of Rick Sowash, helping us count down the days, For an Old Friend at Christmas.

Call it post-Thanksgiving thoughts on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 12th at 9 pm. The recent feasts bring to mind A Festive Proclamation for organ by Samuel Adler which he wrote for celebrations by the National Symphony Orchestra. Marc Mellits gets real with Platter of Discontent, a delicious suite honoring—or decrying—various foods (it begins with The Seduction of Brie).

The spirit of Copland looks over Now Is the Time, Saturday, November 14th at 9 pm. It would be the 115th birthday of the son of Lithuanian immigrants, the son of Brooklyn, who, more than any other composer, defined what is “American” in American music. We think that there is at the very least a little of his spirit in the works on today’s show. 

There are very few tuba concertos in the classical repertoire - Ralph Vaughn Williams' 1954 work is among a handful. But, as WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, a new addition explores the largely untapped lyricism of the instrument.   


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.

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