Rafael Antonio Nazario (also Raphaël or “Raf" Nazario) is a Puerto Rican-born pianist, composer, arranger and actor. He has had a parallel career as chef, author and occasional writer.
Nazario's recordings range from Latin music to instrumental compositions, pop songs in English, classical-oriented piano and orchestral works. His debut album, Patria Añorada (1999, reissued 2004), contains songs in a variety of Hispanic-American styles and features lyrical and jazz-influenced arrangements. Nazario's debut includes musical idioms and vernacular rooted in Puerto Rico's Jíbaro culture, evoking the nueva canción and nueva trova styles of Hispanic-American music.
Upon graduation from high school, Nazario left the island to study piano and music composition, living temporarily with his godparents in Miami, Florida. As he did not play an instrument and had never taken a music lesson, he did not win a place at any colleges he approached. However, an admission-board member at the University of Notre Dame admired the young man's initiative. Rev. Michael J. Heppen, C.S.C., invited Nazario to apply to the University of Portland, where Rev. Heppen was director of admissions. University of Portland's Dean of Music, Philippe de la Mare, was in France that summer, visiting his former teacher, Nadia Boulanger. In this manner, Nazario gained entry to the University of Portland School of Music even though his repertoire consisted of less than a minute of Beethoven's Sonata No. 14 (“Moonlight Sonata”).