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CMPI Alum Rafael Noriega is a passionate bass trombonist studying music performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM). He is happy to be studying with the acting bass trombonist of the Cleveland Orchestra, Randy Hawes, and notes the wonderful opportunity he has as a student of CIM to receive free tickets to Cleveland Orchestra concerts that he regularly attends to stay inspired. Rafael says that he is lucky to have such an amazing orchestra nearby, and that he aspires to be in an orchestra of that caliber someday.

Rafael NoriegaWhen asked what he would like to include in this feature, Rafael wanted to let CMPI students know that audition results do not define your worth as a musician. “One failure is not going to determine what your future will be like. You may or may not get into your dream school. You’ve got to work through it, find what’s best for you, and see what you can achieve.” Rafael strongly believes that it is important for young musicians to not equate their worth to success in our field.

Rafael has plenty of music recommendations. He is, of course, a fan of classical – specifically, he is enjoying Shostakovich at the moment – but he finds time to listen to hip-hop, old school rap, and salsa. He is also fond of movie soundtracks, listing movies like Star Wars and Spiderman: No Way Home.

A highlight of his time in college so far has been the opportunity to play under great guest conductors like JoAnn Falletta and Carlos Kalmar. During his free time, he is preparing for experiences like these by finding any and all time to practice, listen to pieces, and score study. During our conversation he even had his score for the work Scheherazade sitting close by. With this hard work, though, he notes that it is important to have a social life and to be out and about. “Be with people you feel comfortable with, and who support you and make you feel safe and welcomed.”

During his time away thus far, he mentions that it has been difficult to be financially stable with his new independence. He says, “It’s very easy to be deceived by all the freedom you have, and to go out every night. Then, you don’t realize how your bank account is changing! Saving your money is key; work study can help keep you stable.” Personally, Rafael plays as a substitute for the Cleveland Youth Orchestra, where he gets to inspire and laugh with kids in the orchestra.

His aspirations are simple, to be a member of a full-time professional orchestra and to teach younger students, especially those who may not have the financial resources to get lessons with the best people in the city. He wants to help people with a passion succeed, and finishes by saying, “With CMPI I received a lot of support, and I would like to give back to students who might need the help. I want to recognize people for their hard work, and the dedication they have to classical music.”


Rafael Noriega

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