Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, cellist Rafael Figueroa is established as one of the most sought-after cellists of his generation, having appeared in numerous performances throughout the United States, Europe, Central and South Americas, Japan and his homeland of Puerto Rico.
His impressive list of prizes and awards include the First Prize at the Gregor Piatigorsky Competition in Boston, The Bronze Medal at the International Pablo Casals Competition in Budapest, winner of the Jill Sackler Cello Competition at the Third American Cello Congress and winner of the Gina Bachauer Memorial Award.
Mr. Figueroa occupies the prestigious position of principal cellist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra under James Levine in addition to his participation in many of the chamber music series in the New York area including The Lyric Chamber Music Society of New York, The Met Chamber Ensemble with James Levine, The New Jersey Chamber Music Society, The Morgan Library Chamber Music Series and Bargemusic.
Rafael has appeared in recitals and concerts along such artists as the late Rudolf Serkin, Peter Serkin, the late Samuel Sanders, Andre Michel Shub, Ruth Laredo, Michael Tree, Cho Liang Lin, The Cleveland Quartet, the late Alexander Schneider and James Levine.
Mr. Figueroa completed his studies at the Indiana University School of Music under Janos Starker and Gary Hoffman where upon graduation, he became a member of this school’s cello faculty. In 1987 Rafael moved to New York City where he began a ten year collaboration with The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, touring world-wide and recording for Deutsche Grammophon. For five years he was the cellist of The Amadeus Trio and a member of the Chelsea Chamber Ensemble, with whom he premiered and championed a large number of works by contemporary American composers.
His summer festival activities have included the Verbier Music Festival in Switzerland, the Aspen Music Festival, The Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, Marlboro Chamber Music Festival, Lemi-Lappenranta Chamber Music festival in Finland and the Rockport and Marblehead Chamber music Festivals. In addition to his participation for the first time at the International Festival of Music in Cheyu, Korea in the summer of 2003.
Highlights of the past seaons include a performance to critical acclaim of the Brahms Double Concerto with Concertmaster David Chan and The Met Orchestra under James Levine at Carnegie Hall on February 2 , 2003 as part of the orchestra’s subscription series at Carnegie Hall and a second performance of the Brahms Double and Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations in Seoul, Korea. .