Nominated for the Latin Grammy as a classical composer, Rafael is an award-winning arranger, orchestrator, music director, producer, and educator. He had works premiered and recorded by artists such as the jazz legends Terence Blanchard, Chick Corea, and Brad Mehldau, renowned Brazilian artists such as Ivan Lins, Romero Lubambo, Proveta, and ensembles such as Orquestra Jazz Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo (Brazil), Symphony of the Americas, Metropole Orkest (Netherlands) and Costa Rica National Orchestra.
Nominated for the Latin Grammy (2013) as a classical composer at the age of 27, Rafael has a degree in Classical Composition and Brazilian Jazz Studies from UNICAMP (São Paulo, Brazil). He has a Master of Music Degree in Studio Jazz Writing and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Jazz Composition, both from the University of Miami. During his 5 years at the University of Miami, Rafael worked as a composer and assistant conductor at the Henry Mancini Institute receiving the ASCAP Foundation Henry Mancini Music Fellowship.
As a composer and arranger, he had works premiered and/or recorded by artists and ensembles such as the jazz legends Brad Mehldau, Terence Blanchard, Chick Corea, Gregory Porter, rock star Steve Miller, Latin pop star Jon Secada, renowned Brazilian artists such as Ivan Lins, Romero Lubambo, Proveta, Zélia Duncan, and Mart'nália, and ensembles such as Symphonic Jazz Orchestra (Los Angeles), Orquestra Jazz Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo (Brazil), BMI NY Jazz Orchestra, Camerata Latino Americana (São Paulo, Brazil), UNICAMP Symphony Orchestra (Campinas, Brazil), Metropole Orkest (Netherlands), Costa Rica National Orchestra, Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra (Miami), and Campinas Symphony Orchestra (Brazil).
As a conductor, Rafael was one of five young conductors selected to participate in the Brazilian TV contest ”Prelude” for classical musicians, conducted many of the ensembles which have performed his works, and lead 4 ensembles to win graduate student Downbeat Awards: Henry Mancini Chamber Ensemble, Frost Recording Ensemble, Frost Salsa Orchestra, and Rafael Piccolotto de Lima Large Ensemble.
As a researcher, Rafael was a FAPESP fellow with the work: "The Brazilian BIG BAND – Samba compositions and arrangements by Nailor Azevedo (Proveta) for Banda Mantiqueira" and wrote "Blurred Distinctions; Beyond Third Stream – A Study in Composition of Confluent Hybrid Musical Styles: The Amalgam of Jazz and Classical Concert Music" as his Doctoral dissertation.
Other awards include a total of 13 DOWNBEAT Awards (as a bandleader, recording engineer, composer for small and large ensemble, and arranger), an honorary award on the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra commission competition, ASMAC Pete Rugolo BIG BAND Arranging and Composing Competition, ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award twice, JEN Student Showcase Award, ARS BRASILIS national arrangers contest in tribute to Milton Nascimento, and the first place in the Ricardo Rizek Latin American Composition Contest II for young composers.