As an Educator
Rafael regularly collaborates with institutions that share his conviction that music can serve as a catalyst for social justice and as a transformational vehicle in the lives of music makers. He presents at conferences and for audiences throughout Latin America and makes regular visits to sites that are dedicated to democratizing musical learning through access such as the Sistema Nacional de Educación Musical in Costa Rica, and Orquestando in Peru.
Rafael served as the Artistic Director for the Orquesta Sinfónica Manuel María Gutiérrez, the Costa Rican national youth orchestra representing the 32-school "sistema." His tenure culminated in a first ever international tour to Mexico in 2012 featuring performances in prestigious venues such as at the Sala Nezahualcoyotl in Mexico City, and a farewell concert in the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica with President Laura Chinchilla and government ministers in attendance. His work within the "sistema" has consisted of residencies and shorter visits to local music schools, and he continues to collaborate with students and colleagues in Costa Rica since his 2015 return to the United States.
Rafael taught music in public and private schools for fourteen years and is credentialed to teach in the State of California. As a ten-year resident of Costa Rica, Rafael’s ensembles performed for President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias (2009), U.S. Ambassador Peter Cianchette (2008), celebrations for the Queen's Birthday at the British Ambassador’s residence (2006 - 2011), 4th of July celebration for the U.S. Embassy (2011), World War II allied victory celebration for the Russian Embassy (2010), the Costa Rica International Jazz Festival (2011 and 2013), and for a UNESCO gala concert at the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica (2015). He is currently Director of Orchestra & Jazz at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is dedicated to working with local music educators in workshops and in short residencies with their school orchestras, conducting honor orchestras, and creating opportunities for international travel for his own students as well as for students from Latin America to Minneapolis.