Category Archives: Chamber Music

Fanfare on Ein feste Burg

Fanfare on Ein feste Burg. Two versions. A. For 7 Renaissance instruments: 2 Soprano Shawms, Alto Shawm, 2 Sackbuts, Quartbass Dulcian, large Tabor. B. Brass Quintet with optional large Drum. 1:30.

Commissioned and Premiered 20 Oct 2017 by Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Brass Quintet version premiered 29 Oct 2017 by Musica Concordia, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Abington, Pa.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Smith’s piece exploded into life…. A slew of heavy thwacks on a tabor (a Renaissance snare drum) launched Smith’s Fanfare, mimicking the bang of hammer on nail in Wittenberg. The rasp of shawms and the splendid snort of a quartbass dulcian (a bassoon-like instrument) intoned Luther’s great hymn melody as Smith worked bristling variations on it. It was a bracing opening gesture…”

My Broad Street Review essay on the composing this is here. The first pages of both versions are below. Here’s a quick, live run-through of the brass & percussion version:

Nobility & Melomanie on WWFM

listenliveDavid Osenberg interviews my friends in the Baroque/new music chamber group Mélomanie tonight on WWFM’s Cadenza, Thursday at 10 pm Eastern, with a rebroadcast at 7 am Saturday January 31st.

Two movements from my dance suite The Nobility of Women will air. This sextet for Baroque instruments is from their new CD Excursions; read more about their new all-contemporary CD at Mélomanie’s website here.

Nobility of Women in Chamber Music America

MelomanieCMAThe Baroque/New music group Mélomanie is featured in the current Chamber Music America magazine, coinciding with the release of their new CD Excursions. The CD includes my work for them, The Nobility of Women (with guest-artist Priscilla Herreid), and the article includes a bit of an interview with me about working with them. (I liked working with them.)

Check out the article (click on the picture), and check out the CD. In addition to Nobility there’s lots of wonderful music by my colleagues Ingrid Arauco, Jennifer Margaret Barker, Sergio Roberto de Oliveira, and Roberto Pace.

In Rio

The Brazilian composer Sergio Roberto de Oliveira, holding the poster for Mélomanie‘s concert in Rio de Janeiro on November 22nd, during the international four-day festival Compositores de Hoje. I was honored to meet Sergio in Wilmington at our release party for Excursions. My chamber work The Nobility of Women is on the CD, along with terrific music by Sergio, Ingrid Arauco, Jennifer Margaret Barker, Mark Hagerty, and Roberto Pace. It’s being explained to me how my name is pronounced in Portuguese!
Sergio with poster

Network for New Music's Exquisite Corpse

KileSmithExquisiteCorpseI was honored to be asked to celebrate Network for New Music’s 30th anniversary by composing, with 29 others, an exquisite corpse, along the lines of the literary parlor game of a whisper-down-the-lane story construction. Each of us had 48 hours last summer to write 6–8 bars of music, having only the last bar of the previous person’s effort to go by.

Jan Krzywicki administered everything, chose the order of composers at random (or so he claimed), and put the final score together for flute, cello, and piano. He also cobbled together 9-second videos we all sent in, each of us using just the last word from the previous submitter. The video and music orders were the same; none of us knew the order until the concert.

The performance was Sunday October 26th at the Settlement School on Queen Street, and has just been written up in the Philadelphia Inquirer by Daniel Webster.

Two aspects of the project delighted me. (1) Jan’s random choosing (or so he claimed) placed me immediately after my teacher, Maurice Wright (for the video, he stuck me with the word “dodecaphonically” or something or other [I just checked: dodecachotomies], which I had to practice saying over and over before I hit Record, and which makes me also believe that he paid off Jan for the ordering). (By the way, Maurice and I put our heads together at the reception afterward and agreed that our two musical offerings comprised the most inherently organic two-fer of the bunch, but we haven’t told anyone else, so it’s our secret. I think that means, yes, I’m sure that means, that I didn’t compose anything new.) Jan wondered if I had been inspired by the tango from Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale. I thought I had stolen something from Ravel.

It was funny to see how many of us (myself included) threw in a curveball at the end of our offering, but what was most lovely was (2) the very real sense of personality that came out of these snippets of music. It was astounding, actually, to see the names pop up on the screen and to hear the music. I smiled the entire time. The word I think I’m looking for is exquisite.

Thanks to Edward Schultz, Priscilla Lee, and Susan Nowicki, for their lovely and enthusiastic playing on flute, cello, and piano.

Jim Primosch would’ve won the video award, if there had been a video award, and if I had been in charge of awarding it. I have no idea what he said, as we were all laughing, but his full-face in camera, sunglassed, low-voiced hopping recitation called to my mind Gil Scott-Heron, Rod Serling, and the Unabomber.

Congratulations most of all to Linda Reichert, the engine and heart behind Network for New Music, on 30 years!

The suspects, on the roof of the Settlement Music School, Queen St., Philadelphia, from left to right:


Richard Brodhead, Daniel Dorff, Philip Maneval, James Primosch, Robert Capanna, Jennifer Barker, Van Stiefel, Maurice Wright, Jay Reise, Cynthia Folio, Jeremy Gill, Anna Weesner, Andrew Rudin, Robert Maggio, Ingrid Arauco, Evan Solot, Kile Smith, David Bennett Thomas, Roberto Pace, Tony Solitro, Adam Vidiksis, Gerald Levinson, Gene Coleman, Jan Krzywicki (who put the music and video together), Paul Epstein. Not pictured: Kyle Bartlett, Luke Carlson, Andrea Clearfield, Joo Won Park, David Shapiro, Augusta Read Thomas, Thomas Whitman. 

Network2014SettlementRoofRobert Capanna, Scott Ordway, Jay Reise, Jeremy Gill, Kile Smith, Roberto Pace, Linda Reichert, Paul Epstein

Melomanie CD Release Party, includes Nobility of Women

MelomanieCDReleaseMélomanie’s new CD Excursions is about to be released, with my dance-suite sextet for Baroque instruments, The Nobility of Women on it; the release party/concert is Saturday, September 13th, in Wilmington. All the edits have been finished for about two weeks, and I’m delighted by how it all came out. A special treat for me is that my daughter Priscilla Herreid joins Mélomanie on Baroque oboe.

I’m honored to be included with the composers Roberto Pace, Ingrid Arauco, Jennifer Margaret Barker, and Sergio Roberto de Oliveira on this project, with, of course, the wonderful players of Mélomanie. They bring their energetic and beautiful sound to everything they do, whether it’s in their concerts of “provocative pairings of early & contemporary music,” or in this all-contemporary CD Excursions. Thanks to Tracy, Kim, and everyone at Mélomanie!

The Nobility of Women

The Nobility of Women
2011; Baroque fl, ob, vn, viola da gamba, Baroque vc, harpsichord; 20′
Commissioned and premiered by Mélomanie

excursions-500x500This 20-minute work takes its name from the 1600 dance instruction manual Nobiltà di Dame by Fabritio Caroso. The name of the book alone captivated me. I used none of the music from Nobiltà di Dame, but rather imagined a piece that would grow out of a work with that title. I also wanted to write legitimate dance music, that is, music that people could really dance to if they liked. Mélomanie is skilled in Baroque and new music, and I’ve enjoyed writing for historical instruments in the past. The sound-world is entrancing, so I’ve tried to compose a work that would release the beauties of these fabulous instruments, including some short and not-so-short solos throughout.

Here’s where you can purchase the CD Excursions which includes Nobility!

“Kile Smith’s eight-movement The Nobility of Women completes the recording, going beyond references to dance suites, paying direct homage to a 16th-century dance manual for women. More than the others, Smith is comfortable with close imitation of 17th-century techniques and tonality.”—Early Music America

Here’s a post on the first rehearsal, and here are reviews of the premiere in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Chestnut Hill Local. Below are excerpts from the premiere.

Branle Reprise