Kile Smith

Classical Host

Kile Smith co-hosts Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection on the first Saturday of every month at 5 pm with Jack Moore. Discoveries takes a fresh look at music in the Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music at the Free Library of Philadelphia, where Kile was curator for 18 years. He also fills in as an on-air classical host.
 
When he's not producing podcasts of CD reviews for WRTI, writing for the Broad Street Review, or teaching private composition, Kile is busy composing orchestral, choral, chamber, and liturgical works. His music is praised by critics and audiences for its emotional power, direct appeal, and strong voice. Gramophone magazine calls his Vespers "spectacular," possessing "sparkling beauty." The Philadelphia Inquirer describes his music as "breathtaking."
 
He's composed for The Crossing, Piffaro, Orchestra 2001, and the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival. He's also written for David Kim, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Jennifer Montone, Philadelphia's principal horn, and Anne Martindale Williams, principal cello of the Pittsburgh Symphony. His website is kilesmith.com.

The weeds in his ever-widening gardens hint that he needs to get outside more.

A few days after Independence Day, we continue looking at the American composer on Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, as we have for the past few months. But on today’s program we’ll view one of the greatest of them within an international context.

As we’ve noted in other Discoveries programs, Edwin Fleisher did not, in 1909, intend to found an “Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music”; rather, he started the Symphony Club. This was a place—he bought and donated a Pine Street townhouse for the purpose—that would become a training ground for orchestral playing by students, at a time when there was no such opportunity in the Philadelphia schools. Girls and boys, blacks and whites, all were welcome.

We keep one composer and swap out two from last month’s American Romantics program on Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection. The two new composers are two Arthurs—Bird and Foote—and we’ll hear music they first wrote for other purposes.

The history of a musical era is as difficult to capture as the history of a house. If your house was built in, say, 1880, you might fill it with Victorian furniture and feel satisfied with getting it right. Your satisfaction may change, however, the deeper you looked.

It’s been said that Edwin Fleisher did not like vocal or choral music. Whether a few people have told me this, or one person told me a few times, I can’t recall, but it explained why, while there’s a wealth of orchestral music with voices, none of it made its way during Fleisher’s life into the Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music at the Free Library of Philadelphia. There are two problems with the story.

There’s that video that’s made the rounds on YouTube for years—Leonard Bernstein not conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in the Finale of the Haydn Symphony No. 88. Right, not conducting: It’s an encore, and as the applause dies away, he starts the music, then drops his hands to his side.

In the cold of the new year, Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection finds warmth in the music of the Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas, Saturday, January 6th, from 5 to 6 pm on WRTI.

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, December 2nd, 5 to 6 pm... We celebrated anniversaries throughout 2017: the 100th of the births of Robert Ward and Richard Yardumian, the 150th of Charles Koechlin and Wilhelm Peterson-Berger, the 200th of Niels Gade, and the 300th of Johann Stamitz.

Kile Smith

Anniversaries bump into each other on this Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday from 5 to 6 pm on WRTI. It’s year 500 since the beginning of the Reformation, almost to the day, when Martin Luther posted 95 theological and ecclesiastical points he wished to debate with all comers. Nobody dared to take him up on it, but from the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in 1517 a revolution in religion, humanism, freedom, and language swept across the world. And it was accompanied by music.

Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday, Oct. 7th, 5 to 6 pm. Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) is the “Father of the Symphony” in the same way that George Washington (born the same year) is the “Father of our Country.” Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and he and others generated the Constitution and other central documents, but Washington’s leadership was the foundation on which the country was built. Similarly, the symphony owes its early growth to Haydn.

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