Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How brightly shines the music of Kile Smith

Last January, we announced on these pages a concert featuring the early music ensemble Piffaro and the virtuoso choir The Crossing in a performance of the Epiphany Vespers of Philadelphia composer Kile Smith, all under the direction of conductor Donald Nally, chorus master of the Lyric Opera in Chicago. The concert, held in two different locations in Philadelphia, was a huge hit, and now a recording has been prepared for release.

Here is a snip from the concert in Chestnut Hill. The second movement, a setting of the hymn Wie schoen leuchtet der Morgenstern, I find to be particularly beautiful. This is a tune that had gone sour for me--until I heard this performance:

During the recording sessions this past summer, WRTI of Philadelphia put together a fascinating report about this project:

Kile Smith's Vespers can be said, of course, to be a union of past and present. Nevertheless, such a statement would not seem to convey the depth of originality in this work. There are moments in this music which could only have been thought up in the 21st century, and yet the entire piece is enlivened by a refreshing realism. Smith eschews gimmicks and instead embraces beauty. Could the Epiphany Vespers prove to be as much of a success as another Vespers setting written not quite 400 years ago? I hope so.

Now I have just a few details to fill in: I can't seem to find all the relevant information about the upcoming recording. Can someone chime in on this? Thanks.

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