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photo credit: Sam Brewer

Rapidly gaining national and international acclaim, the music of Kile Smith is hailed by critics, performers, and audiences for its strong voice, sheer beauty, and “profoundly direct emotional appeal.” 

Kile receives the prestigious Independence Foundation 2018 Fellowship in the Arts to begin writing his first opera, The Book of Job, collaborating with two award-winning artists, conductor Donald Nally and director, librettist, and dramaturg Edward Sobel.

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 the minimalist, mystical writer Robert Lax, friend and influencer of Thomas Merton.

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

For the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 8, multiple performances of The Consolation of Apollo take place throughout 2018: the Verdigris Ensemble of Dallas, the Ars Nova Singers in Colorado, Red Shift in Vancouver and Baton Rouge, Robert Hollingworth leading The 24 in the UK premiere, and an excerpt by the Choral Arts Society in Washington, DC.

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 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.

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. The Arcadian Trio commissions Kile for a new piano trio for their 2018/19 season, and other choral and chamber commissions are in the works

Short biography

photo credit: A.J. Waltz

Rapidly gaining national and international acclaim, the music of Kile Smith (b. 1956) is hailed by critics, performers, and audiences for its strong voice, sheer beauty, and “profoundly direct emotional appeal.” 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, Adieu, Adieu for Relâche, 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. His music has been performed throughout the U.S., in Europe, and by The 24 and others in the U.K. The Independence Foundation awarded Kile a 2018 Fellowship for his first opera, The Book of Job. Four CDs of Kile’s music are due for release in 2018/19.

Biography

Rapidly gaining national and international acclaim, the music of Kile Smith (b. 1956) is hailed by critics, performers, and audiences for its emotional power, direct appeal, strong voice, and sheer beauty. 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.” Conductor Craig Hella Johnson said, “his voice is unlike any other.”

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 2018/19.

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 commissioned chamber works and performed 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 has been 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, organist, and conductor Jacqueline Smith, live in Philadelphia with the youngest 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
Arcadian Trio
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
Anna and Erik Meyers, flute and organ duo
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