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.

Candace diCarlo

The door closed behind Jennifer Higdon. She was in the office of her college conducting professor, Robert Spano, seeking advice about what to do. She had just heard back from the Curtis Institute of Music - they had accepted her application for graduate studies, but so had other music schools. She needed guidance.  "I'm not letting you out of here," Spano said, until she agreed to accept the spot from Curtis.

It’s all whispers and shadows on Now Is the Time, Saturday, February 28th at 9 pm. Deliciously riffing on Shakespeare takes us to where comedy, tears, and romance meet, in Daron Hagen’s Much Ado for orchestra. JG Thirlwell produces sweeping cinematic drama in his Brooklyn studio with 10 Ton Shadow, and the glorious sounds of Chanticleer revolve William Byrd around Walt Whitman’s “Whispers of Heavenly Death” in Whispers by Steven Stucky.

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project performs Lewis Spratlan’s Apollo and Daphne Variations, an extensive metamorphosis on the myth of change to escape predation. Carleton Macy closes the program with Elusive Dreams for saxophone quartet.

Everything's numbered on Now Is the Time, Saturday, February 21st at 9 pm. Rudy Davenport comes up with Seven Innocent Dances for harpsichord, and for piano are the Bagatelles of Paul Chihara, subtitled Twice Seven Haiku.

The Ancia Saxophone Quartet performs David Bixler's Heptagon, and Joel Chadabe electronically modifies the playing of Esther Lamneck on the tarógató, the Hungarian single-reed instrument related to the saxophone, in Many Times Esther. Lucas Ligeti writes about three places he's visited in Triangulation, for the electronic percussion instrument called marimba lumina.

Ice Canyons

Jan 30, 2015

It's ice and echoes on Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 31st at 9 pm Eastern on the all-classical stream at and WRTI-HD2. Figure-skating and Stravinsky inspire Joan Tower's gliding Petroushskates, and Allen Ginsberg narrates his own poem in Echorus by Philip Glass, for two violins and strings. From the CD Winter is Eric Ewazen's Elegia, for trumpet and piano.

The Tibetan Heart Mantra is at the center of Echoes by Paul Fowler, for the women of The Crossing, and Peru echoes in the harpsichord work by Kent Holliday, Dances from Colca Canyon. Barton McLean runs environmentalist John Muir's descriptions of glaciers through his own software to construct Ice Canyons. The echoes of minimalism by way of Steve Reich close out the program, in this recording of New York Counterpoint arranged by saxophonist Dave Camwell for his CD Time Scape.

Three of a Kind

Jan 10, 2015

Everything's coming up threes on Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 10th at 9 pm. Childlike simplicity is deceptive in creativity but Brian Belet achieves that goal in Drei Kinderstücke for solo piano. John Corigliano fascinatingly pairs soprano with flute for his Three Irish Folksong Settings, and for soprano with piano are settings of a Scottish poet in Three Tannahill Songs of Evan Chambers.

Philadelphia's own David Bennett Thomas comes along with Three Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, and for violin, cello, and piano is the Trio of Lera Auerbach. And to honor the memory of Fred Sturm, who just passed away in August, a saxophone quartet closes the program with one of his wonderful jazz-inspired compositions, Picasso Cubed.

Prelude and Excursion

Jan 3, 2015

We turn the corner into a new year of Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 3rd at 9 pm. Kevin McCarter's Prelude and Excursion for orchestra leads into a sacred new year's dedication for chorus by Carson Cooman, Set Me As a Seal. And then the pianist Marc-André Hamelin performs Twelve New Etudes, Book 4 by William Bolcom.

Robert Honstein snips dialog from an online dating service to entitle the electronic chamber works in his CD RE:you; we'll hear I know the feeling…. For violin and piano is Eric Moe's Preamble and Dreamsong from the 4-5 a.m. REM Stage. The last movement of Symphony of the Universe by Wendy Mae Chambers comes to us in a live recording from the cavernous Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and what better way to listen to Evolution, music for 100 timpani?

Taking Leave of 2014

Dec 26, 2014

The sun turns and we anticipate a new year on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 27th at 9 pm. Stephen Hartke based The King of the Sun on a Joan Miró painting, itself inspired by a much older Dutch painting by Jan Steen. Chris Campbell finds sounds and creates sounds electronically in Sunface Streams Moonface. Amplified piano and soprano join in five settings of Federico García Lorca by George Crumb; he calls his Spanish Songbook II Sun and Shadow.

Nancy Galbraith features electric Baroque flute and electric cello in Traverso Mistico, and from a live recording we'll hear the exquisite middle movement, "The Joy of Sadness." And to say goodbye to the old year we'll look to one of the piano rags of Brian Dykstra's, Taking Leave.

We're counting down the days on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 20th 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.

El Niño

Dec 13, 2014

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.