Kile Smith

Composer

 

 

“There is no other music like this.”—Craig Hella Johnson

“Our jaws just dropped”

Joan Kimball, Co-Founder, Piffaro, the Renaissance Band

“One of our most important composers”

Craig Hella Johnson, Artistic Director, Conspirare

“He knows how to generate an emotional life out of a few tiny notes—and that’s the only thing that matters”

Donald Nally, Conductor, The Crossing

“Kile Smith is reshaping the choral repertoire”

Cincinnati Movers & Makers

“Sublimely ... ecstatically beautiful”

David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer

“At the top of his craft ... advancing the choral art form”

George Case, conductor

“Smith’s vocal writing is eerily beautiful”

Boston Classical Review

“There is no other music like this. Utterly unique.”

Craig Hella Johnson, Conspirare

The Arc in the Sky: “maybe his best piece yet”

David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer

Vespers: “a glowingly beautiful work ... stylistically timeless”

Peter Burwasser, The Absolute Sound, March 2024

The Arc in the Sky: “Masterful ... exhilarating ... emotionally charged ... Smith has set a new standard for himself. Strongly recommended.”

Jonah Pearl, The Classic Review

The Arc in the Sky: “a masterpiece of emotional expressivity and spiritual revelation”

Michael Caruso, Chestnut Hill Local

The Arc in the Sky: “shimmering music that never quite goes where you think it will”

Jennifer Hambrick, WOSU Public Media

The Arc in the Sky: “a great explosion of energy ... rich and expansive ... real zest in both music and performance”

John Quinn, MusicWeb International

April Showers: “So incredibly beautiful ... such a joy to sing”

Simon Barrad, baritone

Canticle: “Achingly beautiful”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Canticle: “The writing for voices is exquisite ... contemplative, playful, devotional, exuberant, and sensual.”

Andrew Quint, The Absolute Sound

“His music attracts and inspires a broad spectrum of listeners — from serious classical musicians to lovers of blues, folk and jazz”

Craig Hella Johnson, Artistic Director, Conspirare

Vespers: “like no other music”

Miami Herald

Vespers: “a major new work”

American Record Guide

Vespers: “almost preternaturally beautiful”

Philadelphia City Paper

Vespers: “one of the finest concerts I’ve heard in at least the last decade”

Chestnut Hill Local

Vespers: “spectacular”

Gramophone

Vespers: “ecstatically beautiful ... a sanctuary ... the Magnificat contains a minor miracle”

Philadelphia Inquirer

Vespers: “altogether gorgeous and haunting”

Buffalo News

Vespers: “a magnificent achievement ... fresh, vibrant ... bursts with the invention that characterizes the best music”

Fanfare

Vespers: “a crime to pass up ... easily one of the best releases of the year of any type ... profoundly direct emotional appeal”

Audiophile Audition

Vespers: “worldwide buzz ... exceptionally beautiful ... sneaks up on you, like a velvety cocktail, and then you are hooked”

Philadelphia City Paper Top Ten Classical

Deo Gratias: “almost giddy ... richly gratifying ... recalls Hugo Distler, but with a lighter heart and a natural exuberance”

Choral Journal

“His voice is unlike any other”

Craig Hella Johnson, Artistic Director, Conspirare

The Consolation of Apollo: “Top Ten… a highlight of the year”

TheaterJones, Dallas

The Consolation of Apollo: “will inspire your singers and audience to new heights”

David Montoya, California Choral Directors Association

“The piece I personally found most compelling was Kile Smith’s ‘Yes, it’s beautiful’ from The Consolation of Apollo ... stunning”

South Carolina Music Guide

The Bremen Town Musicians: "fun...a spritely, high-spirited score by Kile Smith"

Fanfare

Reflection, for organ: “Six minutes of pure musical bliss that brought tears to this reviewer’s eyes”

The Diapason

Alleluia: “going to be a staple of the choral repertoire”

Craig Hella Johnson, Artistic Director, Conspirare

A Child’s Afternoon: “spontaneous sounds of delight from the audience ... every time. We are lucky to have this piece.”

Anna Meyer, flutist

A Child’s Afternoon: “a slow burn ... the same delighted reaction ... every time I perform this piece. The anticipation ... is palpable”

Anna Meyer, flutist

American Spirituals: “among the very best examples of that type of composition that I’ve ever heard, bar none”

John McLaughlin Williams, conductor, violinist

Where Flames a Word: “an important world premiere … feels completely right in spellbinding ways I never imagined”

Philadelphia Inquirer

“The Waking Sun is a hit”

Philadelphia Inquirer

“Immediate appeal due to his melodic gift ... not forced or artificial”

Fanfare

Fanfare on Ein feste Burg: “Smith’s bristling variations ... exploded into life”

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Red-tail and Hummingbird: “excellent … distant kinship to Monteverdi’s Orfeo overture … more rapid and dense”

Philadelphia Inquirer

A Song of Sonia Sanchez: “the most dramatic piece of the evening … a deafening performance, physically and emotionally”

Temple University News

A Song of Sonia Sanchez: “one of the most powerful pieces of the evening”

Latinoamérica, Philadelphia

Two Laudate Psalms: “natural, un-ostentatious simplicity ... near-invisible touches ... The God-is-in-the-details adage holds true”

Philadelphia Inquirer

Featured Video

Everyone Sang. (Siegfried Sassoon) SATB solo high voice, 5′. 2020. Available from MusicSpoke. Christopher Windle conducting the DePaul University Concert Choir with soloists Tyler Whitney and Macrina Forest, 26 Feb 2022. Inspired by Gaelic psalm-singing and Sacred Harp singing. Complete text and notes here.

Highlights

2023
PREMIERE 7 May. In the Midst of Life, text from Book of Common Prayer. William Ferris Chorale, Christopher Windle, Chicago
20 May. The Bremen Town Musicians. Salt Lake Symphony, Robert Baldwin
6 Jul. The Bremen Town Musicians. Monadnock Music, NH, three performances
UK PREMIERE 8 Jul. The Arc in the Sky. Reading Bach Choir, Daniel Mahoney, Douai Abbey, Upper Woolhampton, England
20 Jul. Where the Mind Is Without Fear. withonevoice, Brian J. Winnie, Western Illinois University, Macomb IL
21 Jul. Where the Mind Is Without Fear. withonevoice, Brian J. Winnie, Fourth Presbyterian, Chicago
PREMIERE 23 Jul. Northland, poems by Claude McKay. Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Joshua Habermann, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
25 Jul. Jubilate Deo, for string orchestra. Elizabethtown College Music Camp, Sheldon Bair
29 Jul. Northland. Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Joshua Habermann, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
4 Aug. Northland. Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Joshua Habermann, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
22 Aug. Jubilate Deo, for string orchestra. Abington Festival Strings, Abington Presbyterian, Abington PA
15 Sep. “Conversation in the Mountains” from Where Flames a Word released as a single, Choral Arts Initiative, Brandon Elliott
PREMIERE 23 Sep. “Veni Sancte Spiritus” and “How Fair the Bright and Morning Star” (Wie schön leuchtet) from Vespers. New versions with organ. Transept, Timothy Campbell, Cathedral of St. Joseph, Sioux Falls, SD
3 Oct. Jerusalem from The Arc in the Sky. Utah Valley University Chamber Choir, Reed Criddle, UVU Norda Center, Orem, UT
7 Oct. Jerusalem from The Arc in the Sky. Utah Valley University Chamber Choir, Reed Criddle, Utah All-State Choir Concert, Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City
PREMIERE 14 Oct. Sometimes It Happens So. Benjamin Flanders, baritone, Sonya Szabo Reynolds, piano. ChamberPalooza, Cincinnati Art Museum
15 Oct. A Child’s Afternoon and There’s a Land Beyond the River. Anna K. Meyer, flute; Erik Meyer, organ. Church of the Covenant, Cleveland
16 Oct. Jubilate Deo, for string orchestra. Armstrong High School (MN), Kevin Martin
28 Oct. “Why did they all shout” from The Arc in the Sky. University of Michigan Chorale, Sandra Snow, East Lansing, MI
5 Nov. PREMIERE. Franklinville-Schwarzwald Männerchor Sängergruß. Jacqueline Smith. Vereinigung Erzgebirge, Warminster, PA
9 Nov. There’s a Land Beyond the River. Megan Carroll, flute, Graeme Burgan piano. Trinity Orthodox Presbyterian, Hatboro, PA
13 Nov. Jubilate Deo, for string orchestra. Robbinsdale Area All-District Festival, Kevin Martin, Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis
27 Nov. RELEASED. Christmas and Magic, solo version, digital release, Andy Cooney. Duet version, released in Ireland, Andy Cooney and Deirdre Masterson
1 Dec. Red-tail and Hummingbird (brass sextet version). Blair Bollinger, Curtis Institute, Philadelphia
2 Dec. Jerusalem from The Arc in the Sky. Utah Valley University Chamber Choir, Reed Criddle, UVU Norda Center, Orem, UT
3 Dec. “How Fair the Bright and Morning Star” (Wie schön leuchtet) from Vespers. St. Mary’s Episcopal, Richmond, VA, Ryan Tibbetts
3 Dec. Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow. Blue Ridge Singers, Jeffrey Alban, First Baptist, Winchester VA
4 Dec. WORLD PREMIERE. Christmas and Magic, SATB, piano. Saint Joseph’s University Singers, John Grecia, Philadelphia
8 Dec. Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow. Blue Ridge Singers, Jeffrey Alban, Front Royal Presbyterian, Front Royal VA
10 Dec. Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow. Blue Ridge Singers, Jeffrey Alban, Trinity Episcopal, Upperville VA
15 Dec. The Waking Sun. Roots in the Sky, Baroque Music Montana, Andrew Major, Hope Lutheran Church, Bozeman MT
16 Dec. The Waking Sun. Roots in the Sky, Baroque Music Montana, Andrew Major, Big Sky Chapel, Big Sky MT
17 Dec. Red-tail and Hummingbird (brass sextet version). Curtis Institute Brass, Bravo Brass Concert, St. Mary’s Episcopal, Burlington, NJ
17 Dec. The Waking Sun. Roots in the Sky, Baroque Music Montana, Andrew Major, Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Bozeman MT
21 Dec. Red-tail and Hummingbird (brass sextet version). Blair Bollinger, Curtis Institute Brass, Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, Chicago
30 Dec. Northland. Live recording, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Joshua Habermann. WPRB Princeton, Marvin Rosen Viva 21st Century 24-hr Marathon
2024
7 Jan. “How Fair the Bright and Morning Star” (Wie schön leuchtet) from Vespers. St. Mary’s Episcopal, Richmond, VA, Ryan Tibbetts
27 Jan. Jubilate Deo, for string orchestra. Carroll County (MD) All-County Orchestra, Sheldon Bair
3 Mar. Come, Ye Sinners. Martin Luther Chapel, Pennsauken, NJ, Jacqueline Smith
1 Mar. Alleluia. First and Central Presbyterian, Wilmington, DE, David Schelat
31 Mar. Behold, the Best, the Greatest Gift. Martin Luther Chapel, Pennsauken, NJ, Jacqueline Smith
31 Mar. Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem. Grace First Presbyterian, Long Beach, CA, Stan DeWitt
31 Mar. Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem. Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Daniel Spratlan
31 Mar. Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem. St. Mary’s Episcopal, Richmond, VA, Ryan Tibbetts
31 Mar. Sing, Choirs of New Jerusalem. Wayne Presbyterian, Wayne, PA, John Grecia
10 May. PREMIERE. Wireless. Chor Leoni, Erick Lichte
11 May. Wireless. Chor Leoni, Erick Lichte
12–14 May. Wireless. Recording. Chor Leoni, Erick Lichte
27 Jun. Jerusalem, from The Arc in the Sky. The Crossing, Donald Nally, Month of Moderns 2, Awbury Arboretum, Germantown, Philadelphia

Grammy nominations
The Dawn’s Early Light. 2022 Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance, The Singing Guitar – Craig Hella Johnson, Conspirare, Austin Guitar Quartet, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Texas Guitar Quartet, Douglas Harvey, Estelí Gomez — Chicago Tribune Top 10 Classical Album, 2020 — WRTI Best of 2020 Album — Apple Music Featured New Album — Qobuz Grand Selection
The Arc in the Sky. 2020 Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance, The Crossing, Donald Nally
Canticle. Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble, Craig Hella Johnson, helped win 2020 Classical Producer of the Year Grammy for Blanton Alspaugh

Selected commissions (Complete Calendar here)
The Arc in the Sky. SATB, 66′. The Crossing, Donald Nally
April Showers. Conspirare, Craig Hella Johnson
Ave Maris Stella. SSATTB, 7 instr. Piffaro, the Renaissance Band with Variant 6
The Book of Job. Opera for bass-baritone and chorus. Co-commission, Conspirare, The Crossing
Canticle. SATB, 3 cellos, perc, 66′. Vocal Arts Ensemble, Craig Hella Johnson
The Consolation of Apollo. SATB, perc, 35′. The Crossing, Donald Nally
The Dawn’s Early Light. SATB, cello, four guitars, 19′. Conspirare, Craig Hella Johnson
Go Forth into the World in Peace. 4’30”. Knox Church, Cincinnati, Earl Rivers
In the Midst of Life. William Ferris Chorale, Christopher Windle, Chicago, 7 May 2023
Jubilate Deo, SATB, organ. Ursinus College, John French
Jubilate Deo, chamber orchestra. Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra, Sheldon Bair
Jubilate Deo, string orchestra. Temple University Prep, Mark Huxsoll
Nirakar. Opera for soprano, mezzo, chorus. Two scenes, Erica Schuller, Bella Voce, Andrew Lewis, Chicago, 11 Mar 2023
Wireless. Chor Leoni, Erick Lichte, Vancouver, Canada, 2024
New Work. The Choristers with orchestra, David Spitko, Bucks County PA, 2025
Northland. Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Joshua Habermann, 23 Jul 2023
Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow. SATB, orchestra, 4′. Choral Arts Society of Washington, D.C., Scott Tucker
Sometimes It Happens So. Baritone, piano, 17′. Five-song cycle, the estate of poet Jane Flanders
There’s a Land Beyond the River. 3’30”. Blue Line String Quartet
Thirty Variations on a Theme of Bartók. Piano, 35′. Community Music School, Trappe PA
Where the Mind Is Without Fear. SATB, 4’30”. University of New Mexico Concert Choir, David Edmonds

New publications
Alleluia. SATB. Hal Leonard
The Arc in the Sky (complete) from ECS Publishing
The Bremen Town Musicians, for narrator & orchestra; for narrator & for violin, cello. MusicSpoke
Everyone Sang. SATB. MusicSpoke
Jerusalem (from The Arc in the Sky) as a separate octavo, from ECS Publishing
Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow. SATB, piano. Hal Leonard
The Star-Spangled Banner. SATB, piano, opt cello. Hal Leonard
There’s a Land Beyond the River. clarinet/piano, violin/piano, viola/piano, string quartet. MusicSpoke

Recent recordings
The Bremen Town Musicians, for orchestra. On the CD Fiddles, Forests, and Fowl Fables with Gemma Whelan, narrator, Kenneth Woods, conductor

Kile Smith’s critically-acclaimed music has received three Grammy nominations and is hailed nationally and internationally for its strong voice, sheer beauty, and “profoundly direct emotional appeal.” He’s been commissioned by The Crossing, Conspirare, Piffaro, Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Chor Leoni, Helena Symphony, Choral Arts Society of Washington, Lyric Fest, Westminster Choir College, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Newburyport Chamber Music Festival, the Pennsylvania and iSing Girlchoirs, Choral Arts Washington, Choral Arts Philadelphia, Gaudete Brass, and many others. Kile’s first opera, The Book of Job, co-commissioned by The Crossing and Conspirare, will premiere soon in Philadelphia and Austin.

The Singing Guitar (Conspirare, Craig Hella Johnson) including Kile’s The Dawn’s Early Light with the L.A. Guitar Quartet and cellist Douglas Harvey, received a 2022 Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance. The English Symphony Orchestra released The Bremen Town Musicians with Gemma Whelan, narrator, on CD. The Philadelphia Orchestra featured Bremen in their “Our City, Your Orchestra” chamber music series. Ave Maris Stella was commissioned and premiered by Piffaro, the Renaissance Band in 2021 with Variant 6. Ricardo Morales premiered There’s a Land Beyond the River, for clarinet and piano. The Arc in the Sky with The Crossing received a 2020 Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance, and the Canticle CD by Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble helped win the 2020 Classical Producer of the Year Grammy for Blanton Alspaugh. Hal Leonard publishes Alleluia, Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow, The Star-Spangled Banner, and I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. Kile’s Where Flames a Word helped Voces Musicales win the 2020 Estonian Recording of the Year.

Major choral works are heard in New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Dallas, Canada, England, and New Zealand. Gramophone called Vespers “spectacular” and Audiophile Audition, “easily one of the best releases of the year of any type… a crime to pass up.” Westminster Choir sang The Consolation of Apollo in 2022, continuing its run of over 50 performances. Ten CDs with his music have been released since 2018. Kile has also been performed by Seraphic Fire, The 24, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Sofia Philharmonic, the Grand Rapids and Delaware symphonies, Orchestra 2001, and Network for New Music. [Photo Credit: A. J. Waltz]

Longer bio here …