Rafael Karlen is an award-winning composer, saxophonist, and arranger. He 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, Cambodia, England, Scotland and Sweden.

Awards and recognition include an ARIA Nomination, a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship, Composer-in-Residence in the Peggy Glanville-Hicks House, an ABC Jazz Commission, finalist in the Australian Jazz Bell Awards, nominations for the Freedman Fellowship from the Music Council of Australia, and an Australian Art Music Award for Excellence in Jazz with the Berardi/Foran/Karlen Trio.

Rafael graduated from Griffith University, Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 2004, with a Bachelor in Contemporary Music Performance in Saxophone. He completed his Masters of Arts in Music at the University of York in England after receiving the Lord Mayor's Fellowship for Young and Emerging Artists, and is currently undertaking a PhD at Griffith University.

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'This is a wonderful performance of an impressive and engaging new work. Listen to it if you get the chance. Congratulations to all involved in this project.'

-Daniel Kaan, reviewing Sinking Cities premiere in ClassikON, 2022

'If illustration were needed of how music so often speaks more eloquently than words, it would be hard to beat Australian saxophonist and composer Rafael Karlen’s new album: the words sung by Kristin Berardi often segue into expressive vocalese that tells the listener as much if not more than the narrative.' 

- Nigel Jarrett

‘Above all, contrary to the other varieties of saxophonists in jazz, Rafael Karlen does not act in a blatant manner, but brings out the lyrical. Truly a feast for the ears!’