Thanks Northwestern and Piffaro!

VespersMillarBack from Chicago & Evanston, and gorgeously revealing performances of Vespers by Northwestern University’s Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble (BCE) and Piffaro, The Renaissance Band. Donald Nally led brilliantly, Piffaro played like gangbusters, and the singers simply knocked me out.

Above, from a rehearsal—must be the Magnificat—tenors & altos, Priscilla Herreid working the tenor dulcian, Bob Wiemken hidden behind the earth-moving octavebass dulcian, oh yeah.

So many thanks to Northwestern University’s Institute for New Music, the Evelyn Dunbar Early Music Festival, Millar Chapel, St. James Cathedral in Chicago, and the astounding musicians of BCE. I can hardly believe the work they did for this. None of this would have been possible without Donald Nally, whose leadership, vision, and creativity inspire all of us, and Piffaro, without whom Vespers would not exist.


Winter Spirits on Now Is the Time

Christmas Daybreak500It’s time for some warmth in the midst of winter on Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 24th at 9 pm. From The Crossing’s 2013 Christmas Daybreak CD is Benjamin C. S. Boyle’s Three Carols for Wintertide, holding up for our consideration a rose, holly and ivy, and rosemary. For Nothing is Fred Frith’s music considering the Buddha nature; it’s for contralto with the unusual string quartet of two violins, cello, and viola da gamba. Katherine Hoover paints the image of a Native American flutist in Winter Spirits, and Adrienne Albert offers the soft Winter Solace for saxophone and piano.

And in the middle of our winter program is a powerful statement of warmth and lyricism; it’s the Symphony No. 1 of Steven R. Gerber.

from Benjamin C. S. Boyle: Three Carols for Wintertide 

Benjamin C. S. Boyle: Three Carols for Wintertide
Fred Frith: For Nothing
Katherine Hoover: Winter Spirits
Steven R. Gerber: Symphony No. 1
Adrienne Albert: Winter Solace

Every Saturday night at 9, Kile Smith brings you Now Is the Time, all styles of contemporary concert music by living American composers on WRTI-HD2 and the all-classical stream at Here are the recording details and complete schedule.

Sarah Shafer sings Hopkins Songs at PCMS

SarahShaferSoprano Sarah Shafer will song my Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins Tuesday, January 20th, in her Philadelphia Chamber Music Society recital at the American Philosophical Society, 8 pm. Lydia Brown, assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera and on the faculty at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of music, accompanies.

Also on the program are songs of Copland, Schubert, Poulenc, Rachmaninoff, and Stravinsky.

I first wrote two of the three songs for the centenary of the poet’s death; my wife Jackie sang them in front of a slew of international Hopkins scholars at St. Joseph’s University. I was petrified that they would ferret out inappropriate accents in my settings, as Hopkins is, how shall I say, accentual, but Jackie won them over effortlessly. If I made any missteps the professors kept them to themselves and warmly thanked me. Here’s more about the Hopkins songs, which go way back and which have been transposed, revised, and orchestrated.

The New York Times praises Sarah for her “luminous voice” and “intensely expressive interpretations,” and Opera News calls her “remarkable, artistically mature,” and “a singer to watch.” She’s a sought-after operatic and concert artist, and I’m so pleased to have my songs performed by her.

Vespers at Northwestern

January 24, 2015, Millar Chapel, Northwestern University, Evanston (Institute for New Music)
January 25, 2015, St. James Cathedral, Chicago (Presented in collaboration with the Evelyn Dunbar Early Music Festival)
Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and Piffaro, The Renaissance Band, Donald Nally conducting

Three of a Kind on Now Is the Time

DBThomasPathsEverything’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.

from Fred Sturm: Picasso Cubed

Brian Belet: Drei Kinderstücke
John Corigliano: Three Irish Folksong Settings
David Bennett Thomas: Three Pieces for Clarinet and Piano
Evan Chambers: Three Tannahill Songs
Lera Auerbach: Trio
Fred Sturm: Picasso Cubed

Every Saturday night at 9 Eastern, Kile Smith hosts Now Is the Time, all styles of contemporary concert music by living American composers on WRTI’s all-classical stream. Just go to and click on the Listen: Classical button at the top of any page. In the Philadelphia area with an HD radio? Dial us up at 90.1 FM-HD2, or find all the frequencies here, from the Jersey Shore to the Poconos to Harrisburg to Delaware. Thanks for supporting American contemporary music on WRTI! 

Review of Consolation of Apollo in Chestnut Hill

ChestnutHillLocalLogoIn the Chestnut Hill Local, Michael Caruso calls The Consolation of Apollo “lyrical, even at its most dramatic and dissonant, ” saying that it is “theatrical” with “an ethereal quality that give the voices the sound of truly coming to earth from outer space.”

He reviewed The Crossing’s Saturday, January 3rd performance of Apollo and David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion, the fourth out of five concerts since October of these works, heaping deserving praise on director Donald Nally and the singers, who were

as close to perfection as imaginable. Despite daunting spans of range and dynamics, the choir’s singing was so thoroughly under control that Nally and his singers were free to concentrate solely on delivering Smith’s musical interpretation of the astronauts’ message to those of us on earth — full of profound appreciation for our planet’s sublime beauty.

Also mentioned are the glorious acoustics of the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill and rightly so, for it is a grand place to hear The Crossing. Read the entire review here.

Nobility of Women in Chamber Music America

MelomanieCMAThe Baroque/New music group Mélomanie is featured in the current Chamber Music America magazine, coinciding with the release of their new CD Excursions. The CD includes my work for them, The Nobility of Women (with guest-artist Priscilla Herreid), and the article includes a bit of an interview with me about working with them. (I liked working with them.)

Check out the article (click on the picture), and check out the CD. In addition to Nobility there’s lots of wonderful music by my colleagues Ingrid Arauco, Jennifer Margaret Barker, Sergio Roberto de Oliveira, and Roberto Pace.