Highly regarded as a conductor and clinician with an international appeal, Rafael’s professional work has taken him throughout the Americas to Peru, Colombia, the Amazon region of Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, Honduras, and to Costa Rica where he lived and worked for many years before returning to the United States. Following a successful appearance at the Black Sea Conducting Festival in 2012, Rafael was invited to conduct the Romanian National Opera Orchestra in Constanza in September 2013 with additional performances in Romania and in Bulgaria the following year. He was selected as a Conducting Fellow with the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica in 2015 and subsequently served as Assistant Conductor with the Boulder Philharmonic for two years during his doctoral residency at the University of Colorado from 2015 – 2017.
In Costa Rica, Rafael served as Artistic Director for the 130-member national youth orchestra Manuel María Gutiérrez representing the Sistema Nacional de Educación Musical from 2010 – 2012 culminating in an international tour to Mexico including performances at such prestigious venues as the Sala Nezahualcóyotl in Mexico City. His conducting work extends to the wind band appearing frequently as a guest conductor with the National Bands of Costa Rica since 2007, in concert with the Air Force Band of Peru, and delivering a master class on military and musical leadership for the Navy Band of Peru in the port of Callao coordinated by the Peruvian Association of Symphonic Band and Ensemble Directors.
Rafael’s initial studies and background as a jazz pianist brings a unique and intimate perspective to his musical interpretations. He collaborates with musicians with a clear sense of purpose and intention yet is profoundly respectful of the dignity and humanity that each musician represents within the orchestra. Phrase and detail, emotive, energetic and purposeful, these are the characteristics that make Rafael so compelling on the podium.
Rafael Antonio received the Doctor of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting and Literature degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder. His conducting studies include with Italian maestro Alfredo Bonavera, winner of the prestigious Mitropoulos conducting competition in 1969 and Assistant Conductor of the New York Philharmonic from 1969 – 1970, with American conductor Carl St. Clair, director of the Pacific Symphony in California and the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica, and with Gary Lewis, director of the Midland-Odessa Symphony and Chorale in Texas, and head of the conducting studio at the University of Colorado Boulder.