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International Recording Project in Costa Rica

July 2021.

Bringing his Minneapolis students into contact with colleagues from Latin America, Rafael champions projects that result in international travel and collaboration. The COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to international travel for the 2020 – 2021 academic year. To deal with this new reality, Rafael crafted a series of arrangements of North American standards and Latin American music for Jazz Orchestra. This is an ensemble consisting of a 10-piece “Little” Big Band with a chamber orchestra complement of orchestral strings. Additional instruments include a suite of Latin percussion and vocalists.


With these arrangements available and in close collaboration with his Music Business colleague Dr. J. Anthony Allen, Rafael curated a recording project that brought together his jazz ensemble students in Minneapolis with the string players from the University of Costa Rica in Puntarenas. Winds and percussion parts were recorded in Augsburg’s recording studio, and Rafael travelled to Costa Rica for field recordings of the strings. He was accompanied by Music Business major Tommy Bieganek as his recording engineer.


Rafael had the chance to visit with his dear friend and mentor, Italian conductor Alfredo Bonavera during this visit. Rafael states that he wouldn’t be the conductor that he is today without Maestro Bonavera’s influence and advice.


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