Member Profile : Rafael Karlen

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Rafael Karlen (Saxophonist) is an award-winning saxophonist, composer and arranger and enjoys creating music for a variety of ensembles across a broad range of styles. Since releasing his debut album in 2008, Rafael has continued to build a reputation as one of the more creative, exciting and surprising musicians on the Australian music scene. Rafael’s music has been performed by small jazz groups, rock and pop ensembles, big bands through to chamber orchestras and string quartets. He has performed throughout Australia and New Zealand, and in Canada, England, Scotland and Sweden.

Following the release of Rafael’s first album which boasted his music for the 10-piece jazz ensemble, Rafael’s subsequent albums consisted of his music for string quartet with improvising pianist and saxophonist, intimate jazz trio and will soon release his fourth album as a leader in 2019, this time with his new Quintet featuring acclaimed musicians Kristin Berardi, Matt McMahon, Brett Hirst and Simon Barker. He is part of the Berardi/Foran/Karlen Trio with Kristin Berardi and Sean Foran and will release their second album in 2019 with special guest vibraphone player Pascal Schumacher from Luxembourg.

Rafael has received many awards and accolades and in 2015 he was awarded a renowned Winston Churchill Fellowship to travel to USA, England, Denmark, Norway, Germany and Holland to visit many of the world’s leading contemporary composers/arrangers, performers and ensembles. He was recently awarded the prestigious Prelude Residency and was the 2018 Composer in Residence at the Peggy Glanville-Hicks House in Sydney which allowed him to focus on producing new work over the course of 12 months.

In addition to leading his own groups, as a performer, Rafael has worked with Soul, Jazz, Pop, Folk and Classical artists including Renee Geyer, Ed Kuepper, James Morrison, Megan Washington, Archie Roach, Tenzin Choegyal, Zac Brown (USA), Pascal Schumacher (Luxembourg), The Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Expressions Dance Company and the Brisbane-based trio Trichotomy.

Rafael is a graduate of the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and from the University of York in England after receiving the Lord Mayor's Fellowship for Young and Emerging Artists. Rafael was the Director of The Queensland Youth Orchestra Big Band and has lectured at The Queensland Conservatorium of Music, The Jazz Music Institute and the JMC Academy. He is currently involved with The Queensland Music Festival where he spends time in remote communities in Far North Queensland as part of their Cape York Music Program.

Artist Website

You can see Rafael as part of Fusion- Musical Cross Roads, part of Showcasing Queensland Saturday evening during Arts Ablaze Celebrations