KileStandingShadow2009Hailed by critics, performers, and audiences, the music of Kile Smith is increasingly sought after because of its unique beauty, emotional power, direct appeal, and strong voice.

Kile’s 2015–2016 season includes major new works for Craig Hella Johnson’s Vocal Arts Ensemble and the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, along with many other projects.

With multiple commissions from The Crossing, Kile has also been composer in residence for Lyric Fest, the Helena Symphony, and the Jupiter Symphony. Kile is the composer in residence for the Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia.

Contact • kile at kilesmith dot com • Kile on Facebook • Bio →

Canticle at Chorus America


Craig Hella Johnson

Craig Hella Johnson’s Vocal Arts Ensemble commissioned this work, one of the largest, most compelling projects I’ve been involved with. SATB, 3 cellos, 1 percussionist playing vibraphone, bass drum, tambourine. 65′. June 15, 7 pm, Covenant-First Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati.

Canticle is a setting of the great mystical work of St. John of the Cross, The Spiritual Canticle of the Soul and the Bridegroom Christ, or as it’s often and simply known, the Spiritual Canticle. The 40-stanza poem is revered as one of the great religious and literary works of the 16th century. Following the tradition of the biblical Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs), St. John personifies, with symbolic and beautiful imagery, the journey of the soul, through the travails of the world, to union with her bridegroom… More…

Grandmother’s GardenGrandmothersGarden

A setting of the children’s book by John Archambault. 2-part Children’s Choir, Piano, opt. C Instrument, 9′. Grandmother’s Garden was commissioned by Settlement Music School, Philadelphia, in honor of the 10th Anniversary of the Gleeksman-Kohn Children’s Choir, Rae Ann Anderson, director.

The magic of the book, I think, is in the realization and acceptance of two opposing thoughts, that we are all separate, and that we are all together. We are all different, and all the same. Each thought is made stronger by the acceptance of its opposite. At the same time, there is pride in our togetherness. All different, all the same, all in one garden…  More…

Agnus Dei

MendelssohnClubCommissioned by the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Paul Rardin, Artistic Director. Premiered 18 Oct 2015, the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia and the Symphony in C, conducted by Paul Rardin. For choir and orchestra; duration, 15 minutes.

For his first concert as the new artistic director of the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Paul Rardin asked me to compose an Agnus Dei. The Mozart Great Mass in C Minor would also be performed on this concert. My composition was to complement Mozart’s Mass, one of his last works and which he left unfinished without an Agnus Dei….  More…

The Heavens DeclareAivazovskyChaos1841

The Heavens Declare, for SATB, SAB solos, piano, and optional audience participation. Duration about 4-½ minutes. Commissioned by Lyric Fest, premiered by Lyric Fest and Singing City, Jeffrey Brillhart, director. The concert was inspired by James Weldon Johnson’s poem “The Creation.” Because it is a retelling of the Genesis account of creation, I suggested a setting of Psalm 19 for my piece.

This can be performed in concert or in church, with soloists or small sections answering the choir, and with audience (or congregation)…   More…


vespersChoir of at least 16 singers, multiple soloists, Renaissance band. 66′. Much of this transcribed for keyboard.

From the reviews: “Seldom do I come across a piece with such profoundly direct emotional appeal. I’ll say it outright: this work is a masterpiece of the deepest kind… worldwide buzz… almost preternaturally beautiful… easily one of the best releases of the year of any type… it would be a crime to pass it up… one-of-a-kind work… astonishes the listener… a remarkable feat… miracle… hour-long tour de force… essential listening… the final movement (“Deo Gratias”) is almost giddy… brilliant new work… magnificent achievement… fresh, vibrant… the whole work bursts with the invention that characterizes the best music… a composer of stealthy excellence… ethereally beautiful… a singular voice… a major new work… a spectacular work… profoundly contemporary… ecstatically beautiful….” More…

Choral Music Recently Commissioned and Performed

Canticle | Vespers | The Consolation of Apollo | Where Flames a Word | Agnus Dei

O Rex Gentium | Grandmother’s Garden | Out of the Depths | The Heavens Declare

Season at a glance

In This Blue Room, Lyric Fest, Shadyside Presbyterian, Pittsburgh, 27 Sep 2015
The Nobility of Women, excerpts, Mélomanie and Wilmington Ballet, 2 Oct 2015
Agnus Dei, Mendelssohn Club, Philadelphia, Church of the Holy Trinity, 18 Oct 2015
Deo Gratias, from Vespers, Chicago College of the Performing Arts, 30 Oct 2015
Where Flames a Word, Khorikos, St. Anthony of Padua, SoHo NYC, 7 Nov 2015
Vespers, The Choristers, Trinity Lutheran, Lansdale PA, 21 Nov 2015
O Rex Gentium, Choral Arts Philadelphia, St. Clement’s, 2 Dec 2015
The Nobility of Women, Mélomanie, West Chester University, 11 Feb 2016
The Nobility of Women, Mélomanie, Delaware Ctr for the Contemporary Arts, 14 Feb 2016
Where Flames a Word,The Crossing, Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 14 Feb 2016
Stationen auf dem Wege zur Freiheit (Dietrich Bonhoeffer), 17 Feb 2016
Out of the Depths, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian, 13 Mar 2016
Grandmother’s Garden, Settlement Children’s Choir, Cherry Hill NJ, 10 Apr 2016
Greenville College Schoenhals Symposium, residency, master class, performances, 13–15 Apr 2016
Canticle, Vocal Arts Ensemble, Cincinnati, 1 May 2016
Grandmother’s Garden, Settlement Children’s Choir, Philadelphia, 1 May 2016
Canticle. Vocal Arts Ensemble, Cincinnati. Chorus America National Conference. 15 Jun 2016
You Are Most Welcome. Jeff Quartet project, The Crossing. 8 Jul 2016
The Bremen Town Musicians, new version for orchestra. English Symphony Orchestra. 10 Jul 2016

Recent Commissions

Agnus Dei, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia | Canticle, Vocal Arts Ensemble | The Consolation of ApolloMay Day, You Are Most Welcome, The Crossing | overture Gold and Silver, cello concerto And Seeing the Multitudes, Helena Symphony | Grandmother’s Garden, Settlement Music School Children’s Choir | song cycle In This Blue Room, Mark the Music, The Heavens Declare, Lyric Fest | O Rex Gentium, Choral Arts Philadelphia

Selected Projects

Aestas Consort | Association of Anglican Musicians | Cathedral Church of St. Paul (Boston) | Choral Arts Philadelphia | Church of the Holy Trinity (Philadelphia) | The Crossing | Gaudete Brass | Greenville College | Helena Symphony | Lyric Fest | Mélomanie | Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia | organist Alan Morrison | Newburyport Chamber Music Festival | Northwestern University | Orchestra 2001 | Pennsylvania Girlchoir | Philadelphia Brass | Philadelphia Sinfonia | Piffaro | Saint Mark’s Church (Philadelphia) | baritone Randall Scarlata | Seraphic Fire | Settlement Music School | Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra | Ursinus College | Vocal Arts Ensemble, Cincinnati | anthems, hymns, service music

ReviewsVespers • spectacular… profoundly contemporary… ecstatic… sparkling beauty — Gramophone | I’ll say it outright: a masterpiece of the deepest kind… seldom do I come across a piece with such profoundly direct emotional appeal… easily one of the best releases of the year of any type… a crime to pass up… 5 Stars — Audiophile Audition | a magnificent achievement… ethereally beautiful… a composer of stealthy excellence… fresh, vibrant… a singular voice — Fanfare | a major new work — American Record Guide | breakthrough… so ambitious and singular… ecstatically beautiful… direct and uncalculated… breathtaking — Philadelphia Inquirer | unique… sounds like no other music — Miami Herald | Recording of the Month… brilliant — Musicweb International | almost preternaturally beautiful… seeps into the consciousness with gentle stealth and power… disarming any resistance… magical… worldwide buzz… don’t miss this— Philadelphia City Paper | astonishes the listener — Knight Arts Miami | altogether gorgeous and haunting… deserves to be mentioned along with Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers” — Buffalo News | absorbing and fascinating… music of deep faith written according to a hallowed tradition is as alive as it ever was — Palm Beach ArtsPaper

The Consolation of Apollo • dauntingly high-concept… clear vision and sure purpose without losing any of its otherworldliness… consistently high-level… this piece has a future — Philadelphia Inquirer | theatrical… lyrical, even at its most dramatic and dissonant… the sound of truly coming to earth from outer space — Chestnut Hill Local

In This Blue Room • strikes a new note… pulled a large rabbit out of the hat: The last thing I expected was a jazz-hybrid idiom — Philadelphia Inquirer | His work can evoke torch songs and jazz without actually being either… a spectrum of moods and styles that are uniquely his — Broad Street Review

The Waking Sun • an intensely charged sweet spot… a hit — Philadelphia Inquirer

Where Flames a Word • completely right in spellbinding ways I never imagined… important world premiere — Philadelphia Inquirer

More reviews →