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Hailed by critics, performers, and audiences, and rapidly gaining national and international acclaim through multiple commissions from The Crossing and from other choirs, the music of Kile Smith is increasingly sought after for its emotional power, direct appeal, strong voice, and sheer beauty. Kile has been composer in residence for Lyric Fest, the Helena Symphony, the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival, and other groups, and is composer in residence of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia.

News

photo credit: Sam Brewer

Kile received the prestigious Independence Foundation 2018 Fellowship in the Arts for his first opera, The Book of Job, a unique theatrical work for soloist with chorus. Kile will work with two award-winning artists: conductor Donald Nally and director, librettist, and dramaturg Edward Sobel.

Craig Hella Johnson conducts Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble in Kile’s concert-length Canticle in January, and a new Alleluia. Grammy-winning producer Blanton Alspaugh records these for a 2018 release. George Case conducts Boston Cecilia in the New England premieres of Canticle and Alleluia in March.

Donald Nally and The Crossing premiere and record Kile’s newest concert-length work The Arc in the Sky in June, a setting of texts by Robert Lax, the minimalist, mystical writer, and friend and influencer of both Thomas Merton and Jack Kerouac.

For the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 8, multiple performances of The Consolation of Apollo in March and April, with Sam Brukhman’s Verdigris Ensemble of Dallas. In May, Robert Hollingworth leads The 24 in the UK premiere of Consolation. In October, Red Shift performs it at the College Music Society National Conference in Vancouver, and then in December in Baton Rouge.

The Denver Pro Chorale performs Where Flames a Word in May, and the Northwestern University Singers in June. The Estonian choir Voces Musicales releases a new recording of it in 2018.

Lyric Fest releases an all–Kile Smith song CD in 2018, including his 45-minute cycle for mezzo and baritone, In This Blue Room.

The pioneering new-music group Relâche celebrates its 40th anniversary in June with Kile’s Adieu, Adieu, inspired by the late Romulus Franceschini: composer, jazz arranger, longtime stalwart of Relâche, and Kile’s friend and coworker at the Fleisher Collection. Also in June, another performance of Susquehanna by the Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra.

Choral Arts Philadelphia performs newly re-orchestrated sections of Vespers in January, for the forces with which Matthew Glandorf paired this, Bach’s Cantata No. 1, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern. The New York choral group Khorikos premieres a newly commissioned work of Kile’s in November.

Short biography

photo credit: A.J. Waltz

Audiences and critics praise the music of Kile Smith (b. 1956) for its emotional power, direct appeal, and strong voice. Gramophone hailed the “sparkling beauty” of his music, calling Vespers “spectacular.” The Philadelphia Inquirer called it “ecstatically beautiful,” American Record Guide, “a major new work,” Audiophile Audition, “easily one of the best releases of the year of any type… a crime to pass up,” and Fanfare, “a magnificent achievement.”

Other commissions include The Arc in the SkyThe Consolation of ApolloThe Waking SunWhere Flames a Word, and others for The Crossing and Donald Nally, who have commissioned Kile more than any other composer, the concert-length Canticle for Craig Hella Johnson’s Vocal Arts Ensemble in Cincinnati, Agnus Dei for the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, the song cycles In This Blue Room for Lyric Fest and Plain Truths for the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival, Red-tail and Hummingbird for Orchestra 2001 and Piffaro, the cello concerto And Seeing the Multitudes for Ovidiu Marinescu and the Helena Symphony, The Red Book of Montserrat for the Philadelphia Sinfonia, and The Nobility of Women for Mélomanie. He’s also completed commissions for organist Alan Morrison, the Pennsylvania Girlchoir, the Gaudete Brass, the Association of Anglican Musicians, the Episcopal Cathedral of Boston, Choral Arts Philadelphia, and many others. He’s composed for Concertmaster David Kim and Principal Horn Jennifer Montone of the Philadelphia Orchestra. The Independence Foundation awarded Kile a 2018 Fellowship for his first opera, The Book of Job. Four CDs of Kile’s music are due to be released in 2018.

Biography

Audiences and critics praise the music of Kile Smith (b. 1956) for its emotional power, direct appeal, and strong voice. Gramophone hailed the “sparkling beauty” of his music, calling Vespers “spectacular.” The Philadelphia Inquirer called it “ecstatically beautiful,” American Record Guide, “a major new work,” Audiophile Audition, “easily one of the best releases of the year of any type… a crime to pass up,” and Fanfare, “a magnificent achievement.”

photo credit: A.J. Waltz

Other commissions include The Arc in the SkyThe Consolation of ApolloThe Waking SunWhere Flames a Word, and others for The Crossing and Donald Nally, who have commissioned Kile more than any other composer, the concert-length Canticle for Craig Hella Johnson’s Vocal Arts Ensemble in Cincinnati, Agnus Dei for the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, the song cycles In This Blue Room for Lyric Fest and Plain Truths for the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival, Red-tail and Hummingbird for Orchestra 2001 and Piffaro, the cello concerto And Seeing the Multitudes for Ovidiu Marinescu and the Helena Symphony, The Red Book of Montserrat for the Philadelphia Sinfonia, and The Nobility of Women for Mélomanie. He’s also completed commissions for organist Alan Morrison, the Pennsylvania Girlchoir, the Gaudete Brass, the Association of Anglican Musicians, the Episcopal Cathedral of Boston, Choral Arts Philadelphia, and many others. He’s composed for Concertmaster David Kim and Principal Horn Jennifer Montone of the Philadelphia Orchestra. The Independence Foundation awarded Kile a 2018 Fellowship for his first opera, The Book of Job. Four CDs of Kile’s music are due to be released in 2018.

The Philadelphia Inquirer called the “immediately identifiable personality” of his music “breathtaking,” listing the premiere of Vespers as one of the “Top Ten” concerts of the year. The Buffalo News called it “altogether gorgeous and haunting,” and the Philadelphia City Paper raved that it is “almost preternaturally beautiful.” Audiophile Audition pronounced it “a masterpiece of the deepest kind… Seldom do I come across a piece with such profoundly direct emotional appeal.”

Other premieres include Two Laudate Psalms for Lyric Fest and the Pennsylvania Girlchoir, and Now Ys the Tyme of Crystymas by the Virginia Chorale. Ensemble Epomeo has performed his string quartet The Best of All Possible Worlds, string trios Thrice Blest and No, Not One, and the children’s piece The Bremen Town Musicians. The Gaines/French Duo (soprano saxophone, piano) commissioned This Broad Land and The Better Angels of Our Nature. Vespers and Where Flames a Word are available on the Navona label.

Orchestras performing Kile’s music include the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, the Delaware, Grand Rapids, and Jackson (Tenn.) symphonies, the Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra, and the Sofia, Sofia Youth, and Shumen State Philharmonics of Bulgaria. His works have been played by Network for New Music, Latin Fiesta, and the Ocean City Pops.

Other awards include a grant from the Philadelphia Music Project, a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Composer Fellowship, and grants from Meet The Composer and the Argosy Foundation. Temple University (2011) and Cairn University (2012) have honored Kile as “Alumnus of the Year.”

Kile is a regular contributor to the arts and culture magazine Broad Street Review. He has co-hosted Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection on WRTI-FM in Philadelphia since 2002.

Kile was composer in residence for Lyric Fest, the Helena Symphony, and the Jupiter Symphony, and is Composer in Residence for the Church of the Holy Trinity on Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. For 18 years Kile was Curator of the Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music, the world’s largest lending library of orchestral performance materials, at the Free Library of Philadelphia. He and his wife, soprano and conductor Jacqueline Smith, live in Philadelphia with one of their three daughters.

Selected Commissions

At the dress rehearsal of Canticle with Boston Cecilia; conductor George Case looks on. Photo credit: Sam Brewer

Abington Presbyterian Church, Abington, Pa.
American Guild of Organists, Philadelphia Chapter
Association of Anglican Musicians
Auricolae
Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church
Cairn University
The Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia
The Crossing
Thomas Elliott, trombone
Emilie United Methodist Church, Levittown, Pa.
Ensemble Epomeo
First Presbyterian Church, Phoenixville, Pa.
Gaines/French Duo
Gaudete Brass
Gerard Manley Hopkins Centenary Conference
Greenville University
William Ghezzi, guitar
Helena Symphony
Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Abington, Pa.
John Ilika, trombone
The Jupiter Symphony
Khorikos
Latin Fiesta
Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra
Lower Merion Baptist Church
Lyric Fest
Mélomanie
Musicopia
Network for New Music
Newburyport Chamber Music Festival
Orchestra 2001
Pennsylvania Girlchoir
Philadelphia Classical Symphony
Philadelphia Guitar Ensemble
Piffaro, The Renaissance Band
Pottstown Symphony Orchestra
Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill
Relâche
Singing City
St. Eleanor Church, Collegeville, Pa.
St. Joseph’s University
Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra
Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia
Ursinus College
Vocal Arts Ensemble, Cincinnati
The Westminster Brass

Recordings

American Spirituals, Book One, David Kim, The Lord Is My Shepherd, Paul Jones  Music
American Spirituals, Book Two, Anne Martindale Williams, Sacred Music for Cello, Paul Jones Music
Four French Carols, The Westminster Brass, Christmas Celebration
Great is Thy Faithfulness, The Westminster Brass, Great Hymns of the Faith, Vol. 2
Penmaen Pool, Nancy Ellen Ogle, An Evening with Gerard Manley Hopkins, Capstone
A Song of Sonia Sanchez, Latin Fiesta, Amor a la Vida
“Veni Sancte Spiritus” from Vespers, Fine Music, Vol. 1, Navona
Vespers, Piffaro, The Crossing, Donald Nally, Navona
Where Flames a Word, The Crossing, It is Time, Navona

Publishers

Hildegard Publishing Company, Inc.
E. C. Schirmer
Edwin F. Kalmus & Co., Inc.

MusicSpoke
Paul Jones Music
Tau Imprints
Theodore Presser Company
Westminster Brass Publications

Associations

American Composers Forum
ASCAP
Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia