Born to Anglo Spanish parents, Rafael grew up in Spain being educated at an English school in Madrid. He is bilingual, bicultural and understands the demands and work environments of both countries very well. It puts him in a unique postion to be able to share the authenticity of flamenco and being able to see it from his unique perspective. Rafael is different to other guitarists, he is much more than just a guitarist. He is able to view things from outside and put his own stamp and individuality in to his music.
A few examples of Rafael's work appear in the best selling “Guitar” book by Richard Chapman published by Dorling Kindersley and The New Complete Guitarist. Rafael was the inspiration for the book “Duende” by Jason Webster who dedicated his acclaimed best seller to Rafael “For Rafa, and the duende moments with him that inspired me”. The book is loosely based on some of Rafael’s life and stories living wth gypsies which was subsequently revealed in the press.
In appreciation, Amalio Burguet luthier built a signatory model “Rafael” flamenco guitar dedicated to the guitarist for him to perform his concerts and recordings. He has also been credited with ‘thanks’ on the Radiohead album In Rainbows. He has also had several personal thesis credits for doctorates at Oxford University.
Rafael has composed music and worked closely with BAFTA award winning producers for documentaries, films and commissions and worked and delivered pieces for TV, film and adverts for or with Michael Portillo BBC2 Natural World programme on Spain, Alan Whicker Travelocity (click here), Sky Mad Dogs television series with composer Martin Phipps, Sherlock Holmes (with Patrick Gowers and The Royal Philharmonic), a Christmas album with producer Dru Masters with band Aliqua, recording with Magnus Fiennes for Freefonix and worked closely with leading film, TV and advert agency Cool Music Ltd.
Peter Gabriel and Solid State Logic commissioned a composition called Duende and a performance in Germany (piece duende link).
Rafael has also appeared in person in Midsomer Murders, RIK1, RTVE, Oxford Channel in various interviews and performances.
Rafael is a performer with over 30 years experience. From the beginning of his career in Spain accompanying dancers and singers he then toured with innovating flamenco group Salpicao for years. Non stop touring for years in Spain, Hungary, France, UK, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Thailand, Singapore, Cyprus.
Teaching and quotes :
Rafael has taught at many schools and universities including the Faculty of Music, Oxford University, Trinity College London, Birmingham Conservatoire, Bath International Guitar Festival.
Rose Augustine (Augustine Strings), '...in all the years I have been going to flamenco workshops, this is the first time I have really learnt something, thank you!'
Ivor Mairantz, guitarist and composer, 'I have seen many famous guitarists in my life and you should be earning a lot more than them'.
Rafael also teaches privately and welcomes students to contact him.
Rafael is a versatile session musician and has enhanced many projects. He advises on Spanish rhythms, melody and structure whilst being flexible in his approach. His playing brings the essence of Spain to a piece, with natural flair.
Previous collaborations include rock music, ballet, corporate events:
Recorded with Grace Jones on Flores track together with producer Ivor Guest. Recorded with Ed O'Brien in personal sessions at Radiohead own studios. Featured and interviewed in a press conference with Tamara Rojo , principal dancer of The Royal Ballet and Director of the English National Ballet for 'Españoles en Inglaterra' at a press conference invited by Instituto Cervantes with whom he has collaborated closely in a series of concerts.
He has also toured in a production of Bizet's Opera Carmen as a solo musician guitarist with members of the Royal Opera House singers.
Rafael interviews Ed O'Brien from Radiohead and Nick Hooper, composer
Rafael has held rhythm workshops for actors and been musical director in various theatre productions and his knowledge of flamenco and Spanish music is invaluable.
A born performer and creator, he loves the interaction with dancers and actors in achieving their potential. With Rafael's contacts in Spain and the UK he can structure and supply dancers, singers and percussionists for any event or show according to the client's needs.
Bespoke events :
Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca. Flamenco workshop and production.
Guitar composition by Rafael https://youtu.be/jwdY0x_9LYI
Special and interesting concerts :
A concert for HRH Queen Elizabeth II at The Royal Garden Party, The South Bank, Festival Internacional de San Isidro Madrid 1988, The Oxford Playhouse, Doha in the Persian Gulf surrounded by French divers, The Holywell Music Room, Oxford 1993, The Global Peace Conference, Casa Batlló, Barcelona.
Rafael's music is influenced by many factors. Sources of inspiration such as Paco de Lucia or Bach continue to excite him on a daily basis. His influences are so diverse and true to a person that has not only grown up in two countries but who has travelled most of the world too. From Batak folk music of northern Sumatra to Led Zeppelin or Manuel de Falla. Rafael finds common ground and inspiration in all of these musical cultures but also in people, food or buildings. Mezquita, one of Rafael's first compositions is based on the building of the same name in Córdoba, his mother's birthplace. In this piece he describes the east meeting west through his music. A unique building built originally as a mosque but then once the Catholic Kings reconquered Spain, a Christian altar was erected in the middle. Rafael's music captures the essence of this. For Rafael, a piece of music is not simply a series of notes one after another. Each composition has a story to it, a mood and a place. This is what separates Rafael from other flamenco guitarist perhaps, his individuality, composition and mood.
As a young child he was trained to see music visually, Beethoven's scores...to interpret the music as shapes, animals and this has stayed with him throughout his musical life.