West Virginia University music graduate student Rafael Langoni Smith, who is graduating this spring, has accomplished much at such a young age. The Brazilian-born student has found success in his field of music composition, not only in the College of Creative Arts, but on an international scale.

Smith came to WVU in 2009 through the Music Alive! exchange program between universities in Brazil and the WVU School of Music. The program gives students the opportunity to integrate music education, performing arts, language training and cultural learning activities.

It was truly a turning point in Smith’s education.

“I never thought I’d make so many friends, fare so well academically and learn so much abroad,” he said. “WVU became a very special place for me, and I was lucky to be called back as a graduate assistant by Dr. Michael Vercelli, director of the World Music Performance Center.”

Smith already has a job that most professionals would love to have—composing music for several Brazilian prime time television shows. He’s been working with several music producers from TV Globo for about three years now. Some key contacts in the field helped him land this incredible opportunity.

“I came to know these producers during a course they offered in 2010, in music for film and TV,” Smith said. “I visited their studios, recorded keyboard parts and before I knew it, I was already handling lots of music.”

Smith has accomplished a lot in just four years at WVU. As a graduate assistant he took charge of the WVU Brazilian Ensemble, creating new music, arrangements, leading rehearsals and providing a connection between American students and Brazilian culture.

The University has also flown Smith to numerous festivals to have his music performed, including the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and another music festival in Washington State. Smith has always been eager to travel, and spent almost 10 years of his life traveling with rock bands in Brazil.

Even with all his international success, the hills of West Virginia will always have a special place in Smith’s heart.

“WVU became an outlet for my creativity,” he said. “Here I can have an idea, and get people involved to make it happen, in so many different ways. This is also what I will miss the most.”

After graduation, Smith plans to go back to Brazil and continue to compose for television and movies. He already has work lined up on an ongoing series called “Malhação.”

“It’s an insane amount of work, but it also blows my mind that my music has become a part of the lives of millions of people in Brazil and abroad,” he said. “The study of composition opens many doors.”

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Lb/5-16-13

CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts
304-293-4359, Charlene.Lattea@mail.wvu.edu

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