Smith: A talent for women's voices.

Kile Smith

Contributor

BSR Contributor Since September 7, 2011

Composer Kile Smith also teaches and writes on music. His website is kilesmith.com.

Audiences and critics praise the music of Kile Smith for its emotional power, direct appeal, and strong voice. The Arc in the Sky with The Crossing received a 2020 Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance, and the Canticle / Alleluia CD by Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble helped win the 2020 Classical Producer of the Year Grammy for Blanton Alspaugh. Kile’s first opera, The Book of Job, will premiere in multiple cities in the 2021/22 season. A Birch in Winter, which includes Kile’s Where Flames a Word, won the 2020 Estonian Recording of the Year. Recent commissions include works for Conspirare, Piffaro, iSing Girlchoir, a Chorus America–auctioned commission for the Choral Arts Society of Washington, the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, Gaudete Brass, Orchestra 2001, Mélomanie, the Pennsylvania Girlchoir, and organist Alan Morrison. He has written many orchestral pieces, anthems, other choral music, and songs.

His music has been called “spectacular” by Gramophone, “magnificent” by Fanfare, and “breathtaking” by the Philadelphia Inquirer. One of his favorite reviews was Peter Burwasser describing Vespers as “almost preternaturally beautiful.” He loved the “almost” part and kind of knew what “preternaturally” meant but looked it up anyway in case he saw Peter at a party or something.

His website is kilesmith.com, where he writes about his music and musical activities, and (he promises) hardly anything else. For instance, he’s never mentioned yet, not even on Facebook, how proud he is of the brick patio he designed and built from five different kinds of used bricks around the house, and which is pretty much level, nor how much wood he splits.

By this Author

92 results
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Gian Carlo Menotti’s genius was composing music anybody could sing. (Image via Wikimedia Commons.)

More music and words become art: Another top 10 from composer Kile Smith

What I’ve learned from classical lyric settings

Composer Kile Smith offered his top-10 list of pop songs that mixed music and words into pure art. Now he’s back for another round, this time with icons of classical music.
Kile Smith

Kile Smith

Essays 7 minute read
When the lyrics fly as well as the music: The Commodores onstage. (Photo by Carl Lender, via Wikimedia Commons.)

When do music and words become art? Here’s a top 10 from composer Kile Smith

What I’ve learned from pop lyric settings

Do lyrics serve the music, or vice versa? Sometimes, in pop music, you don’t have to decide. Listen to Kile Smith explain 10 times that pop songs mixed music and words into pure art.
Kile Smith

Kile Smith

Articles 6 minute read
Streaming the “oldest, truest, most beautiful organ of music” with ‘Das Rheingold’ at the Met.  (Photo by Ken Howard/Met Opera.)

The Metropolitan Opera offers free streams of its ‘Live in HD’ series

Three things I learned from Wagner

For Kile Smith, the quarantine was well timed: just as he’s working on his first commissioned opera, he took in a Wagner marathon thanks to the Met’s nightly stream.
Kile Smith

Kile Smith

Articles 5 minute read
Never again… without a little help. (Illustration by Hannah Kaplan, for 'Broad Street Review'.)

Life after U-Haul: A new home in six movements

Moving scenes

"Never again": It’s what we all say after we finish moving. But nobody can stay in one place forever. Kile Smith considers.
Kile Smith Illustration by Hannah Kaplan

Kile Smithand Illustration by Hannah Kaplan

Essays 5 minute read
Leaving the earth, 20 feet at a time. (Illustration by Hannah Kaplan for BSR.)

Building bridges, building music, and the jumps we make together

The curvature of the earth

In sports and in architecture, as in music, there are rules — but there are other, deeper rules beneath them all. Kile Smith considers.
Kile Smith Illustration by Hannah Kaplan

Kile Smithand Illustration by Hannah Kaplan

Essays 4 minute read
"Ice-cold beer und pretzel here!": Oktoberfest in Munich or German Heritage Celebration in Philly? (Photo via Creative Commons/Wikipedia.)

Let me entertain you

Home run

At the Phillies' October German Heritage Celebration, the German Men's Chorus sang their way through the stands. They got back a lot more than peanuts. Kile Smith considers.
Kile Smith

Kile Smith

Essays 4 minute read
The view from inside Benezette's Elk County Visitors' Center: An elk appetizer before the smorgasbord. (Photo by Taylor Studios, Inc., via Flickr.)

The elk of Benezette, Pennsylvania

Hoofloose and fancy-free

A summer road trip leads to elk country... in Pennsylvania. Who knew? Kile Smith considers.
Kile Smith

Kile Smith

Essays 5 minute read
On the way to Abington Hospital (at right). You can't quite see Señor Salsa. (Photo by Kile Smith.)

Living dangerously

The view from here

After composer Kile Smith fainted in church — a second time — his life flashed before his eyes. It didn't look so bad.
Kile Smith

Kile Smith

Essays 5 minute read
Composer Romulus Franceschini was one of Relâche's driving forces. (Photo courtesy of Relâche.)

Relâche New Music Ensemble says "adieu" to Romulus Franceschini

Everybody says 'adieu'

When Relâche New Music Ensemble asked Kile Smith to pen a work honoring Romulus Franceschini, it sent him down the road to nostalgia... and Nostalgia.
Kile Smith

Kile Smith

Articles 5 minute read
(Illustration by Hannah Kaplan for BSR.)

From the Burlington-Bristol bridge you can see forever

Life is a dream

Sometimes your past haunts you; other times it takes you right where you need to be. Kile Smith considers.
Kile Smith Illustration by Hannah Kaplan

Kile Smithand Illustration by Hannah Kaplan

Essays 5 minute read
(Illustration by Hannah Kaplan for BSR.)

Broad Street (Christmas) run

Where N. Broad meets the North Pole

Christmastime is tough on musicians, what with all the rehearsals, concerts, composing, copying, arranging, and more. Who has time to slow down and shop for a tree? Kile Smith considers.
Kile Smith Illustration by Hannah Kaplan

Kile Smithand Illustration by Hannah Kaplan

Essays 5 minute read
"What was I to make of this world?" (Illustration by Hannah Kaplan for BSR.)

Adventures in cultural appropriation

Lift every voice

When it comes to composing music, who owns the cross-cultural inspirations behind it? Kile Smith considers.
Kile Smith Illustration by Hannah Kaplan

Kile Smithand Illustration by Hannah Kaplan

Essays 4 minute read
Almost perfect. Like a ball. (Illustration for BSR by Hannah Kaplan.)

The oak tree and the bird

Following a road to "home"

Music does two things: it takes you somewhere else, and it brings you home. Kile Smith considers.
Kile Smith Illustration by Hannah Kaplan

Kile Smithand Illustration by Hannah Kaplan

Articles 4 minute read
Hitting a brick wall: The Schmitt Musical Mural in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Bosc D'Anjou, via Creative Commons/Flickr.)

What they never tell you about composing

Hitting a brick wall

Ahead of Piffaro's celebration of the Reformation, Kile Smith confronts the part of composing they never tell you about.
Kile Smith

Kile Smith

Articles 5 minute read
Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. (Illustration for BSR by Hannah Kaplan.)

How to write a theme song

The sound of killing your darlings

Occasionally, people ask Kile Smith how he composes music. The answer is pretty simple and includes a spacious trash can.
Kile Smith Illustration by Hannah Kaplan

Kile Smithand Illustration by Hannah Kaplan

Articles 5 minute read