I was born into a family of gifted musicians who encouraged and supported my musical education from an early age. My first music teacher was my father, Don Rafael Pazo, who taught me to play Spanish guitar when I was 4 years old. My mother also enrolled me in private piano lessons until I was accepted at the Escuela Libre de Música and the Instituto de Música Juan Morel Campos in my native Ponce, Puerto Rico, where I studied piano, violin, viola, voice, theory, solfege counterpoint, choral music, ear training and music dictation. I sang in a boys’ choir, a chorale and played violin and viola in the institute’s chamber music orchestra and the youth symphony orchestra. While was in the 10th grade, I took additional private viola lessons with famed violist Maestro Guillermo Figueroa Sanabia at the Conservatorio de Musica de Puerto Rico in preparation to attend college at the conservatory and pursue a career in music. At the same time, I auditioned and played viola with the Puerto Rico Philharmonic Orchestra as one of its youngest members. At first, I did not score well enough in my audition to attend music Summer camp; but rather than being discouraged, I redoubled my efforts and study twice as hard and was accepted to attend music camps at the Puerto Rico Conservatory in San Juan, the Tanglewood Music Center and the Aspen Music Festival with full scholarships.
In 1982, my family relocated to California, and within days of my arrival I auditioned to play viola with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. During my Senior year of high school, I attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music on a scholarship from an anonymous benefactor, who also provided me with a brand-new viola.
Always up for greater challenges, I took a great interest in the music of the Scottish Highlands, particularly the great highland bagpipes, and took private lessons with world-class champion piper Ian Whitelaw, and regularly attended summer sessions at the College of Piping, where I studied with world renowned piping instructors Dugald B. McNeill, Harry S. McNulty, Jimmy Goodwin, Aaron Shaw and Pipe Major Bruce Hitchings.
After many years in a career in science and business, and service in the United States Army, I was determined to continue my formal music education. I was accepted at the prestigious Real Conservatorio Superior de Música de Madrid (Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid), where I studied music performance, chamber music, ethnomusicology, music pedagogy, viola, and orchestral directing. As part of my studies, I participated in many music festivals in the U.S. and abroad, as guest conductor, artist-in-residence, and solo performer and earned a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degrees of Fine Arts and Music. I also hold the following: Bachelor’s in Science(B.S.), Bachelor’s in Business Administration (B.S.B.A.), Master’s in Business Administration (M.B.A.), Master’s in Science (M.S.), Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in International Relations and Trade, and Doctorate in Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Comparative Religion.
I also love to sing, particularly A Capella and Barbershop Harmony: I sing Baritone with Voices of California and the Stockton Portsmen Barbershop Chorus; I also sing with three male ACapella quartets.
I love to play the bagpipes – and several other musical instruments – and perform regularly at weddings, memorials, funerals, patriotic events, graduation ceremonies, corporate events, sporting events, private parties, educational presentations, theater and film productions, and many other occasions.
Dear Dr. Pazo,
Thank you for playing the bagpipes and singing at my husband’s surprise birthday party. Thank your for playing every song that I asked for and for agreeing to take requests from our guests and playing even more beautiful songs.
I had no idea you that you also sang and played other instruments. You see, in my family we are all musicians and we really enjoy all types of classical and world music. While I was in the kitchen, I heard my sister-in-law Angie, who is a professional Soprano singing “La ci darem la mano” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni; and then I heard a robust baritone voice I stepped out to see who was singing; I was surprised and amazed to see you singing classical opera. Minutes later you played Telemann’s Violin Concerto accompanied by my brother Stephan, I knew I had got not only a highly skilled piper but an incredibly talented classical musician. Your warm and kind nature, your patience and flexibility won the friendship of all who met you that day. You are truly gifted musician. You exceeded every expectation I had!
Gifted piper and classical musician, exceeded all my expectations. I will highly recommend you!
Your presentation on Scotch whisky after dinner was educational and entertaining, and your playing at sunset was the highlight of the day enjoyed by all. Thank you for making this the most epic and amazing music party that we have ever had! I will highly recommend you!!!
Dr. Raphael Pazo is a very skilled bagpiper. His professionalism was outstanding. We hired him for our wedding. He communicated with us, asked for our input on dress and songs. Our guests adored him and as I mentioned before his skill level is outstanding. Thank you Raphael! You help make our wedding magical.Absolutely wonderful!