Stefan L. Smith was born in Joliet, IL in July of 1985. He was very fortunate to be introduced to classical music in the public school system. Pamela Breuning, Stefan’s public school orchestra teacher, was a driving force in giving Smith the inspiration to write for an orchestra from ages 12 to 17. His mother and father were also a huge inspiration for having drive to always reach further for his goals. In his sophomore year of high school at Joliet Central (2001), Stefan decided that he wanted to pursue a career as a professional violist and composer. After utilizing the instruction he was provided by his private viola instructor, Mary Palmer, Smith eventually outgrew his private instruction and was forced to train himself to prepare for collegiate auditions, as affordability for advanced studies were too expensive.
Ms. Palmer told him something that he’ll never forget, “Your ears are your BEST teachers. You know what sounds good and what sounds bad. Train yourself to honestly listen to yourself and you’ll go far.” After 2 years of intense training on his own, Smith was offered a full tuition performance scholarship to study at DePaul University’s School of Music, under the tutelage of violist Rami Solomonow.
While there he earned a double Bachelors of Music degree in Viola Performance and Music Composition, where he also graduated in honors. Rami and Maestro Clifford Colnot became a huge driving force for Smith’s launch into his classical career. In 2008, Stefan was offered a full tuition scholarship for a Masters Degree in Viola Performance with Professor Donald McInnes at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.
Since moving to LA, Stefan has branched into composition avenues of concert music, film/tv and video game music, Pop and R&B songwriting, as well as an extensive career in professional symphonic playing. He is also a sought after violist in the film/tv industry for on-camera work. You can spot him playing on camera on projects such as Modern Family, The Voice, Jimmy Kimmel, American Music Awards, Glee, 90210, BET Awards and many others. In 2012, Stefan was appointed to the Viola Section of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, where he is currently a tenured member.
Smith has been principal violist of the Dream Orchestra, South East Symphony Orchestra, Torrance Symphony Orchestra, Glendale Philharmonic, USC Symphony Orchestra, Center Stage Opera Orchestra, Henry Mancini Institute Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, DePaul Symphony Orchestra, Oistrach Chamber Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago (the training orchestra of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra), and many others in the Chicago area. He has performed in the viola sections of the Pacific Symphony, Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, Hollywood Studio Symphony, Las Vegas Philharmonic, Santa Barbara Symphony, San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra as well as a guest principal appearance with the New West Symphony Orchestra.
Stefan is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Award of Merit at the National Fine Arts Festival of 2000. In 2013, Smith was invited to the UC Berkeley Young Musicians Program Faculty where he taught Violin, Viola, and Music Composition.
In recent news (2019), Smith was a member of the viola section of Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack to the “Lion King” and he’s also finishing up the score to the feature film “Lazarus”. Stefan is currently a William Harris Lee Performing Artist who performs on a 2003 Bronek Cison viola, a former Maestro Foundation Artist, as well as an Artistic Ambassador for Coda Bow International.