The Arc in the Sky

Sat, 8 Jul 2023
In this concert, the Reading Bach Choir gave the UK premiere of The Arc in the Sky by American composer, Kile Smith.

Premiered five years ago by Grammy-winning choir The Crossing from Philadelphia, Smith’s impressive concert-length work for a cappella choir is a pilgrimage of sorts, perfectly suited for the soaring, spacious splendour of Douai Abbey where we sang.

This bold and beautiful musical statement takes its inspiration from the equally dynamic verse of lesser-known American poet, Robert Lax. The Columbia-educated writer is best known for his association with the monastic Thomas Merton and friendships with classmates like Jack Kerouac.

The music contains both the space and wonder of deep spiritual thinking while relishing in the detailed intricacies of Lax’s minimalist poetry. The music is steeped in the jazz vernacular that both Lax, Merton, and Kerouac soaked up in their New York City days while slouching from club to club in Greenwich Village.

Smith infuses all of these elements into a work that has garnered increasing international attention and is sure to become a favourite piece among choral music lovers. The concert was a perfect match of space and time.