National Bands of Costa Rica
There are seven National Bands of Costa Rica, one for each of the seven provinces within this Central American republic. The National Bands existed formerly as the military bands of Costa Rica until the 1948 abolition of the military. They now reside within the Ministry of Culture and continue with their service-oriented mission of providing formal music on a weekly basis throughout the country at no charge to the public.
Rafael served as the guest director for a Ministry of Culture project uniting three of the National Bands for a week-long retreat and concert performance in the Caribbean port of Limón. This concert marked the first time that a large-scale musical ensemble has been presented in this largely black community and was met with great enthusiasm by musicians and the public alike.
Rafael returned to conduct the National Band of San José in a gala concert on June 30 in the Iglesia la Soledad. The San José ensemble is widely considered to be the premier band in all of Central America and, located in the capital, fulfills most of the duties for providing music for diplomatic and presidential functions. Rafael's relationship with the National Bands goes back to his first concert with the San José band in 2007. For this special occasion, Rafael had the pleasure of premiering Venezuelan composer Reinaldo Moya's first work for wind band, "Caracas Counterpoint."