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.

Composer ID: 
53c7dc12e1c8b9c77b4b9b76|53c7dbe1e1c8b9c77b4b9b6e

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Now Is the Time
11:20 am
Sat December 13, 2014

El Niño

It's John Adams's Nativity oratorio El Niño on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 13th at 9 pm. We'll fit in as much as we can, since the concert-length work is too long for our one-hour show.

Adams says that the birth of his daughter in 1984 was like a miracle. "Four people were in the room, and then there were five," he says, and that became the inspiration for his take on the Christmas story. Along with Latin and English, much of El Niño is in Spanish. The director Peter Sellars, who worked closely with the composer to create this, says that it's like a triptych that cannot be seen all at once. Unfold a panel to see what's there, and you hide another.

Dawn Upshaw, Willard White, and the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson sing alongside chorus and orchestra in this grand Christmas-time pageant.

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Now Is the Time
12:44 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

The Piano’s 12 Sides

from the album cover

Maybe Thanksgiving is making us burst at the seams on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 6th at 9 pm, but we're chock-full of music on this program. There's not even enough time to play all of Carter Pann's substantial work for solo piano, The Piano's 12 Sides. It comes in at over an hour, so we'll trim just a bit and give over the entire show to this one work.

Pann dedicated each of the movements to a separate pianist, and we hear distinct personalities throughout the work. What we hear in Carter Pann is a composer at ease with music; he breathes with music in the many styles he assembled in this piece from 2011-12. Silhouette, White Moon over Water, Classic Rock, Soirée Macabre, Grand Etude Fantasy, and Irish Tune are some of the movements. This isn't eclecticism (not that there's anything wrong with that) per se, but all the personalities are expressed by one big personality, unafraid of either plain speaking or lovely sound. Joel Hastings is the splendid performer.

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Now Is the Time
12:24 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

Giving Thanks

We're thankful on Now Is the Time, Saturday, November 29th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Film composer Victor Young (Shane, Around the World in Eighty Days) was a benefactor of the music department at Brandeis University, so when John Harbison had the opportunity to compose something for them, he wrote Thanks, Victor, echoing "When I Fall in Love" and other great tunes in this string quartet. Lawrence Dillon's Second String Quartet, "Flight," evokes flying and fugues, with, among other subjects, Daedalus and Icarus, birds, and paper airplanes.

Daedalus and Icarus also appear in William Bolcom's Inventing Flight for orchestra, as do Leonardo da Vinci and Orville and Wilbur Wright. Bolcom is grateful for the gift of flight, and we're grateful for the triumphant collaboration of this composer, his wife, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris, and librettist Arnold Weinstein in the ever-green Cabaret Songs. The program finishes with a fun, live recording of Vol. 4.

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The Crossing Chamber Choir on WRTI
12:07 pm
Sat November 22, 2014

Kile Smith's The Consolation of Apollo: The Crossing Choir on WRTI, Nov. 23 at 3 PM

Composer Kile Smith

Join us on Sunday, November 23rd at 3 pm for a concert broadcast by The Crossing chamber choir, led by Music Director Donald Nally, and recorded in October at the Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square.

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Now Is the Time
8:06 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Textures on Now Is the Time

Different quartets evoke different textures on Now Is the Time, Saturday, November 22nd at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Geology dominates Paul Lansky's Textures. It's for two pianists and two percussionists, and movement titles use words like striations, substrates, granite, and round-wound (makes me think of bass guitar strings). Hammering keyboards and lyrical mallets comprise this unusual foursome.

Philip Glass composed a string quartet, his fourth, in memory of the artist Brian Buczak, who died in 1987, and was a friend. The lilting, pulsing music carries a smooth sadness as its predominant Glassian texture; the great quartet Kronos brings this to us to close the program.

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Now Is the Time
10:55 am
Sat November 15, 2014

Post-modern Homages

Post-modern Homages, from Stephen Hartke's CD The Horse with the Lavender Eye

Composers praise composers on Now Is the Time, Saturday, November 15th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Randall Woolf re-forms, with a string quartet, the phrasings of another century in Franz Schubert, and for Zeitgeist's 30th Anniversary, Carol Barnett wrote Z=30; Schumann's Excellent Extension (with a tip of the hat to Terry Riley).

Stephen Hartke salutes Rochberg, Satie, Enrique Oswald, and Donald Crockett in selections from his Post-modern Homages for piano. For computerized sounds is Reginald Bain's Chaos Game (for Nancarrow), honoring the early, groundbreaking work of Conlon Nancarrow. In Serenata No. 1, Brian Banks imagines the legacies of Henry Sapoznik, Arturo Marquez, and two Harrisons, Lou and George. And cellist Maya Beiser rips into Little Wing of Jimi Hendrix, arranged by Evan Ziporyn.

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Now Is the Time
11:37 am
Fri November 7, 2014

Into the Brightening Air

A string quartet and a solo cello breathe on Now Is the Time, Saturday, November 8th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Michael Hersch wrote the Sonata No. 1 for Unaccompanied Cello when he was all of 23 years old, and already, his dark, simple lines reached through the air to brilliance. The inner virtuosity of emotional movement looms over this music.

Simplicity and small steps also mesmerize within the writing of Lois V Vierk. Into the Brightening Air, inspired by Yeats and dedicated to composer/pianist Mel Powell, takes a quartet of strings on an unexpected journey past familiar landscapes. The windows are down and the wind in our face both soothes and surprises.

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Now Is the Time
5:59 am
Sat November 1, 2014

Preludes and Remembering Stephen Paulus

Lara Downes, Reform, including the music of Stephen Paulus

We remember Stephen Paulus in this rebroadcast, from last spring, of Now Is the Time, Saturday, November 1st at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. Paulus, who died on October 19th (see our remembrance here), wrote comfortably in every genre; we start the program with a short, sassy work played by pianist Lara Downes, his Prelude No. 3: Sprightly. Then guitarist David Starobin and composer William Bland go way back to their school days. Starobin loves playing Bland's music, and we'll hear six of a projected cycle of 48 Preludes.

We return to the piano for the 12 Preludes of Bernard Rands, covering a wide landscape of emotional and tonal range. Included are two movements in memoriam of composer colleagues of Rands, Luciano Berio and Donald Martino.

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Now Is the Time
11:01 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Pre-Halloween Suites

Let's have suites before Halloween on Now Is the Time, Saturday, October 25th at 9 pm at wrti.org and WRTI-HD2. A Prelude, Sarabande, Burlesca, and Gigue make up the Partita (just another name for suite) for piano by Anthony Iannaccone. Guitarist David Starobin loves playing the music of Paul Lansky for, besides being a wonderful composer, Lansky also plays the guitar and knows the instrument very well. The recipe for his Semi-Suite includes Putative Prelude, Aimless Air, Crooked Courante, Shameless Sarabande, Awkward Allemande, and Partly Pavane.

Philadelphia composer Harold Boatrite's Lyric Suite for Piano is from his piano and harpsichord CD of a few years back, Sonatas & Suites. Andy Teirstein boils down a work for multiple strings, written for an outdoor procession, to a string quartet, for the final work on our program, simply, Suite.

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Music Features
5:30 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

My Memories of Composer Stephen Paulus

Stephen Paulus

It has to be 30 years ago now; I was sitting in a cafe with composers Jennifer Higdon, Rob Maggio, Sylvia Glickman, and a fellow in town from Minnesota, who was advising us on a composer organization start-up. He was already well-known in composer circles as the one who, with Libby Larsen, began in Minnesota what became the largest composer service organization in the world, the American Composers Forum. 

His name was Stephen Paulus. He died at age 65 on Sunday, October 19th. He had suffered a debilitating stroke on July 4th, 2013, saddening musicians and audiences everywhere. Now we mourn.

At that table, his enthusiasm and positive energy were contagious, but I remember most of all his kindness. His music reflects that, too. A few months ago I programmed a short work, his Prelude No. 3 for piano, on WRTI's contemporary American music program Now Is the Time. "Sprightly" is Paulus's subtitle, and it encapsulates what I always hear in his music—be it choral, orchestral, operatic. From his more than 500 works, what I always hear is simplicity (even with complicated materials) and melodic openness.

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