LaRob K. Rafael

A native of Temple Hills, Maryland, LaRob K. Rafael developed a love for singing at an early age. He found a spirit in the gospel songs he sang and nuance in the classical music he learned. A graduate of DePaul University, where he graduated with a degree in vocal performance, he has studied with world-renowned teachers, directors and coaches and has had musical opportunities that include traveling internationally to study language, culture and music.

LaRob is the founder and artistic director of Hearing in Color, an organization dedicated to supporting those whose contributions and stories have been historically excluded from classical spaces. He is a current member of the William Ferris Chorale, among other chamber vocal ensembles in Chicago. He is actively sought after as a guest artist, soloist or speaker on several in person or virtual events.

As an arts administrator, he has worked with Lyric Opera of Chicago in the Learning and Creative Engagement Department, sits on the varying boards of Chicago Philharmonic, Picosa Ensemble and La Caccina as diversity and community engagement adviser. He helped facilitate programming as the director of community engagement with Chicago’s Ear Taxi Festival (2021) and is an active consultant with the Black Opera Alliance and Black Administrators of Opera groups. In 2022, Rafael was selected as one of 11 arts administrators nationwide to join the fourth cohort of Sphinx LEAD, a two-year program through the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization, designed to evolve the industry landscape by empowering the next generation of executive leaders.

Additionally, Rafael uses his voice to connect people from different communities as weekend morning host and co-host/producer of “Sounds Classical” on Chicago's classical music radio station, WFMT-FM (98.7) to aid in decentralizing the predominantly white, European, male-centered classical consciousness.

Please note: Biographies are based on information provided to the CSO by the artists or their representatives. More current information may be available on websites of the artists or their management.