Harmonia Early Music

New Music, Early Music

This week Harmonia explores Kile Smith's Vespers, a new work for choir and Renaissance band, plus a new release of Monteverdi's "L'Orfeo."

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men and women in black with instruments

Photo: Andrew Pinkham

Piffaro (l to r: Grant Herreid, Joan Kimball, Robert Wiemken, Priscilla Smith, Greg Ingles, Christa Patton, and Tom Zajac).

The recent premiere of composer Kile Smith‘s “Vespers” was praised by reviewers for its successful melding of the new and the old.  A work for choir and Renaissance band, the composition sought to fuse the musical ideas and choral textures of today with the instrumental sounds of the 16th Century.

The composer modeled his piece on the Lutheran Vespers, which is made up primarily of hymn and psalm settings.  The choral ensemble The Crossing joined the Renaissance band Piffaro in the premiere in Philadelphia in January of 2008.

Kile Smith’s compositions have been performed throughout the United States and abroad.  He has received numerous commissions that have ranged from the more traditional chamber and orchestral settings to ones like “Vespers,” which seek to combine seemingly disparate sound worlds.  In addition to composing, Smith is a classical host on WRTI Public Radio in Philadelphia.

The choral ensemble The Crossing was founded in 2005 by conductor Donald Nally who is, in fact, the Chorus Master at Lyric Opera of Chicago.  He brings together singers from many cities to form The Crossing.  They have presented numerous critically acclaimed programs from the choral repertoire of today, featuring new and modern music.

One of America’s most respected and highly sought after period ensembles, Piffaro, commissioned “Vespers.”  Each of the ensemble’s members, in typical fashion, performed the premiere on a number of instruments, often alternating between winds, strings, and percussion within the performance.

Watch a section of Kile Smith’s “Vespers” as performed by Piffaro and The Crossing:

Our new release of the week is a recording of Monteverdi’s opera “L’Orfeo,” an offering from the Centaur record label.  The singers and instrumentalists of Music from Aston Magna perform under the direction of Daniel Stepner.

Music Heard On This Episode

Claudio Monteverdi: Caronte Ben mi lusinga alquanto
Aston Magna/Stepner — Orfeo (Centaur , 2008)
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Claudio Monteverdi: Caronte Ben mi lusinga alquanto
Aston Magna/Stepner — Orfeo (Centaur , 2008)
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Kile Smith: Hymn Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern
Piffaro and The Crossing — Vespers/Kile Smith, Live performance (January 6, 2008) (n/a, 2008)
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Kile Smith: Introit—Psalm 70 Deus in adiutorium
Piffaro and The Crossing — Vespers/Kile Smith, Live performance (January 6, 2008) (n/a, 2008)
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Kile Smith: Sonata a 5—Steht auf, ihr lieben kinderlein!
Piffaro and The Crossing — Vespers/Kile Smith, (Live performance (January 6, 2008), 2008)
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Kile Smith: Psalm 27 Dominus illuminatio mea
Piffaro and The Crossing — Vespers/Kile Smith, Live performance (January 6, 2008) (n/a, 2008)
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Kile Smith: Sonata a 5—In dir ist Freude
Piffaro and The Crossing — Vespers/Kile Smith, Live performance (January 6, 2008) (n/a, 2008)
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Kile Smith: Sonata a 7—O süßer Jesu Christ
Piffaro and The Crossing — Vespers/Kile Smith, Live performance (January 6, 2008) (n/a, 2008)
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Kile Smith: Hymn Herr Christ, der einig Gotts Sohn
Piffaro and The Crossing — Vespers/Kile Smith, Live performance (January 6, 2008) (n/a, 2008)
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Kile Smith: Magnificat
Piffaro and The Crossing — Vespers/Kile Smith, Live performance (January 6, 2008) (n/a, 2008)
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Kile Smith: Deo gracias
Piffaro and The Crossing — Vespers/Kile Smith, Live performance (January 6, 2008) (n/a, 2008)
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Claudio Monteverdi: From: Orfeo
Aston Magna/Stepner — Orfeo (Centaur , 2008)
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Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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