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Hailed by critics, performers, and audiences, the music of Kile Smith is increasingly sought after for its unique beauty, emotional power, direct appeal, and strong voice. Kile has been composer in residence for Lyric Fest, the Helena Symphony, the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival, and other groups. He is composer in residence of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia.

News

Kile has been awarded a 2018 Independence Foundation Fellowship in the Arts. With this support, he will compose his first opera, The Book of Job, a unique theatrical work for soloist with chorus. He will work with two award-winning artists in theater, choir, and opera, the conductor Donald Nally and the director and dramaturg Edward Sobel.

In January 2018, Kile is back in Cincinnati with Craig Hella Johnson and the Vocal Arts Ensemble for performances and a CD recording of his concert-length Canticle, a setting of The Spiritual Canticle of St. John of the Cross. VAE premiered this in 2016 and also performed it that year at the Chorus America national conference.

Also in January, Choral Arts Philadelphia performs sections of Vespers, newly re-orchestrated for Baroque orchestra, paired with Bach’s Cantata No. 1, Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern.

Two premieres in March: Boston Cecilia with the New England premiere of Canticle, and with the Verdigris Ensemble of Dallas, the Texas premiere of The Consolation of Apollo.

Relâche has commissioned a new chamber work for June 2018, inspired by their early stalwart, the composer, jazz arranger, and Kile’s late friend Romulus Franceschini.

Lyric Fest is releasing a CD of Kile’s songs in 2018, including his 17-song cycle for mezzo soprano and baritone, In This Blue Room.

In June, The Crossing premieres Kile’s newest concert-length work, The Arc in the Sky. He is setting texts of the minimalist, mystical writer, the friend and influencer of Thomas Merton and Jack Kerouac alike, Robert Lax. Kile is thrilled with this latest commission from The Crossing, and is excited to be a part of their Month of Moderns with this major project.

Short biography

KileWRTIHeadShot500Audiences 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.”

Recent commissions include the concert-length Canticle, a major work for Craig Hella Johnson’s Vocal Arts Ensemble in Cincinnati, The Consolation of ApolloThe Waking SunWhere Flames a Word, and May Day for The Crossing and Donald Nally, 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.

Future commissions include a major, concert-length work for The Crossing.

Biography

kilesitting20092.jpg

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.”

Recent commissions include Canticle, a concert-length work for Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble, The Consolation of ApolloThe Waking SunWhere Flames a Word, and May Day for The Crossing, Agnus Dei for the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, the cello concerto And Seeing the Multitudes for Ovidiu Marinescu and the Helena Symphony, 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 Red Book of Montserrat for the Philadelphia Sinfonia, and The Nobility of Women for Mélomanie. He’s also recently completed commissions for organist Alan Morrison, the Pennsylvania Girlchoir, the Association of Anglican Musicians, Cairn University, the Episcopal Cathedral of Boston, and others. He’s composed for Concertmaster David Kim and Principal Horn Jennifer Montone of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Future commissions include a major work for The Crossing, as well as music for the Gaudete Brass, Susquehanna Symphony, Lyric Fest, Newburyport, the Church of the Holy Trinity, and others.

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 recent premieres are 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.

Many orchestras have performed Kile’s music, including the Delaware, Grand Rapids, Philadelphia Classical, and Jackson (Tenn.) symphonies, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, 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.

Among his awards are 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) honored him as “Alumnus of the Year.”

Kile co-hosts Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection at WRTI-FM in Philadelphia. He is a regular contributor to the arts and culture magazine Broad Street Review.

Kile was Composer in Residence for Lyric Fest, the Helena Symphony, and the Jupiter Symphony, and is now 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 lives in Philadelphia with his wife, soprano Jacqueline Smith, and their daughters.

Selected Commissions

kilestandingshadow20093.jpgAbington 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
William Ghezzi, guitar
Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Abington, Pa.
John Ilika, trombone
The Jupiter Symphony
Latin Fiesta
Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra
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
Prairie Dawg Press
Tau Imprints
Theodore Presser Company
Westminster Brass Publications

Associations

American Composers Forum
ASCAP
Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia, Board

Photos by Abu Tilghman