A protégé of Randy Newman, he earned a DMA in Composition at USC’s Thornton School, where he studied with Donald Crockett and Stephen Hartke.
Equally comfortable in popular music, he has performed onstage as opening act for The Who at the Hollywood Bowl, while his guitar work includes performances on feature soundtracks (Crash, Dragonfly); studio sessions for Island/Def Jam, and Universal Records; as well as ABC’s Scrubs, MTV, and VH-1.
His music has been acclaimed by the Miami Herald, the San Francisco Examiner, and the LA Times, helping establish him as a composer with the unique ability of incorporating a large diversity of musical influences into his captivating compositions, which reflect his multi-cultural upbringing in Central America and the United States.
His work has been performed by some of the most prominent ensembles and soloists, including Arturo Sandoval, Colin Currie, Chanticleer, Cavatina Duo, the American Composers Orchestra (ACO), the New England Philharmonic, and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ); commissioned by the Simon Bolivar Youth Symphony, the Miami Symphony Orchestra, and the American Wind Symphony; recorded by Warner, Sony, Naxos, and Cedille labels; published by Mel-Bay, and Doberman Editions; and awarded by the ACO, the Herb Alpert Foundation, the Guitar Foundation of America, BMI, and twice by ASCAP.
He has served as Composer-in-Residence with the Miami Symphony Orchestra, as well as musical consultant for “Invitation to World Literature,” an educational series funded by the Annenberg Foundation and produced by WGBH. He is a voting member of the Recording Academy (Grammy’s), the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL), and is a sought out guest composer and lecturer throughout the US, as well as a faculty member at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music.
Carlos has recently signed with Amos Newman at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME) – whose clients include Hans Zimmer, Trent Reznor, and Ennio Morricone.
...From the new recording were the complex rhythmic games of Carlos Rivera's Cumba-Quin--with the composer present for a well-deserved bow--...
Yet the most arresting manipulation of voice and sound came in Motet for 12 Singers by Carlos Rafael Rivera. The motet consisted almost exclusively of the five sacred syllables of the Tibetan Buddhists: Bhyo, Hum, Om, Hsi, Kye. Its effects ranged from pitch-bending, drone and glissando to the most percussive elements of speech, in which the singers were in fact not singing at all but were exploding single consonant sounds from those five syllables to create continually diverse sound effects.
Pero de los estrenos, el mas aplaudido fue la Pizzi-Cuban Polka, en la que la famosa obra Pizzicato Polka, de Johan Strauss, con su distintivo pizzicato, cobro vuelos de danzón-salsa a golpe de claves, maracas y tumbadoras.
Carlos Rafael Rivera went all Debussy when he sat down to compose the slow movement of The Whirler of the Dance. (Guitarist) Izquierdo placed it in soft moonlight.
...composer Carlos Rafael Rivera offers a score that is unexpectedly melodic, yet entirely effective.
The packed crowd...responded enthusiastically to the new piece with a long standing ovation. Although only time will tell whether Rivera has done for Miami what Gershwin did for New York and Eric Coates for London, but this is an accessible, highly entertaining new work.
This is a charming, relatively lightweight concerto, with plenty of attractive melody and color, and its appeal to the Knight Concert Hall audience, which applauded it enthusiastically, is clear.
Yet, as Frank is a genuinely top screenwriter, the dialogue is choice, and Neeson is compelling as the protagonist, credible and authoritative in a way few Hollywood leading men could ever be. Possibly even better is Carlos Rafael Rivera’s moody score.
Prominent in the first scene was a buzzing effect in the strings, and in the sober second a clarinet solo. The work ends with motoric and assertive music that recalls Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” The performance was warmly received and Rivera was present to take a bow.