Monthly Archives: April 2009

Vespers is out today

Vespers is now released. It’s on the Navona label, where it’s available on download; the CD is also available from Piffaro and Amazon, and Navona has distribution through Naxos. It will be available other places, which I’ll let you know as I find out. It has already received its first review. Four stars! But come to think of it, I didn’t check what the maximum star-number was. Four, five, fifty?… dunno, but he did like it a lot.

I can’t say enough about Joan and Bob and Donald and Piffaro and The Crossing and George and Priscilla… a lot of what I’ve already said is here, around the time of last summer’s recording. Everyone involved is a pro, couldn’t be prouder to be associated with them.

Priscilla reports in

I neglected to get to this until now, but our oldest daughter, who not only plays in Piffaro but is something of a blogging correspondent for them, wrote this on their website last month. Apart from the sweet things Priscilla says about Vespers, it’s an expert look into a bit of the world of Renaissance playing, and some of the challenges, especially when dealing with a composer who’s still alive!

First review of Vespers CD

This reviewer must know what it’s like to be a composer; he knows all about harmonic calamities! Jeff Simon in The Buffalo News writes:

What a beautiful and remarkable thing this turns out to be… altogether gorgeous and haunting. And when, out of some necessity of text and some version of harmonic calamity, a sudden dissonance arrives that out-Gesualdos Gesualdo, you remember that Kile Smith is a 21st century composer living in Philadelphia who has, almost like some Borgesian Pierre Menard (who wrote “Don Quixote” out of his own modern needs), synthesized all of this anew… a piece of contemporary music that, in its very different way, deserves to be mentioned along with Rachmaninoff’s “Vespers.” The performance here is stunning. ★★★★

The complete review is here.

I’m not the organist

In my seat before a concert, chatting with a friend. A fellow in the seat in front of us turns around and says, to me, “You…you’re an organist, right?”

Odd question, that. No. The answer’s No. Can’t just say, “No,” though, sounds rude.… I’m married to an organist, I’ve stood next to many organ benches. Don’t be a wise guy…my eyebrows hover in that demilitarized zone between anticipation and awkwardness… must say something… “No, afraid not. I’m not an organist.” There, wasn’t so hard.

“No? But,” pointing his finger at the naughty boy who won’t fess up, “you’re on the radio, right? WRTI? I recognize your voice!”

Ah, a fan!…“Oh, yes.” Sit up. “Yes, I am.” Other people turn around. So this is what fame is like.

“I knew it!” He knew it. Yes. Glance at others, smile, make eye-contact. People like that. Give a friendly Ah What Can You Do, I’ve Been Found Out shrug.

“But you’re on Jill Pasternak’s show, that organ show!”

Smile freezes. “Peter Richard Conte.”


“Peter Richard Conte. He’s the organist with Jill. The Wanamaker Organ Show. It’s Jill Pasternak and Peter Richard Conte.” Look at floor for fallen crest.

Fellow’s wife leans in. “You’re Peter Richard Conte?”

“No, I’m…” Oh, don’t bother. ”No.” Smile is stuck.

Husband. “You’re not on that show with Jill?”

People start to turn away. “No.” Don’t explain. I haveI’m on another…” Stop. “It’s, um, it’s called the Fleisher… it’s with Jack Moore…” Oh, you sound great. Just terrific. “Discov…”

Wife. “But do you know Jill?”

Sigh. “…Yes.”

“We love her show.”

“Yes.” Be nice. “It’s a good show, isn’t it?”

Husband. “But I’ve heard you.” No you haven’t. “That’s a good show. You’re good.”

Okay, maybe. “Thank you.”

Wife. “So you do know Jill, though? Do you see her?”

“Well, sometimes I…”

“Tell her we came to this concert because of her. She interviewed some of the people and that made us want to hear it. Will you tell her?”

That’s her other show, and no, I won’t tell her. Oh, all right. “Yes, of course I will. I heard that interview.”

Husband. “But you’re good.” Smile, slightly less frozen.

He turns back in his seat. To wife, “He’s not the organist.”