Dr Daniel Rojas is an award-winning composer specialising in the rich and vibrant Latin American aesthetic, as well as an acclaimed pianist specialising in Latin and tango music, and stunning improvisations at the keyboard.
Graduating with the University Medal and obtaining a doctorate in composition from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Rojas’ prizes include the Fellowship of Australian Composers Award, Frank Albert Prize, and Miriam Hyde Memorial Award. A finalist in Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s 21st Century Young Composers program, he has received commissions from Prima La Musica Chamber Orchestra of Ghent (Belgium), The Metropolitan Orchestra, Kammer Ensemble, Omega Ensemble, percussionist Claire Edwardes, soprano Jane Sheldon, and pianist Zubin Kanga. Among his works, he has composed two piano concertos commissioned by Ars Musica Australis and performed by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, North Sydney Symphony, Sydney Youth and Sydney University Symphony Orchestras. As a performer, now widely recognised as Australia’s tango piano specialist, Rojas won second prize in the prestigious international 2021 Piazzolla Music Competition, and performs his own arrangements of iconic and popular Latin American songs alongside his own compositions, allowing audiences to sense the original spirit of each work as he plays it.
2021 brought Rojas’ brilliant new album of original works and arrangements of well-known Latin classics, Bliss of Heaven: Music of the New World (Da Vinci Classics). Recorded in São Paulo, Brazil with the Baldini Quartet (of OSESP Concertmaster, Emmanuele Baldini) and bandonéon specialist, Stephen Cuttriss, it is “a heavenly alchemy of mambo, salsa and Andean folk music fused with classical sensibilities”. Testament to the broad appeal of the music on this album, Rojas continues to perform this program supported by Ensemble Apex strings, with extensive touring in 2021 and 2022 including sold-out shows for Sydney Festival, Orange Chamber Music Festival, the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre and for Live at Yours, Art Gallery of NSW, and Musica Viva Australia. Alongside this program, Rojas featured in the 2022 documentary ‘Beats of Colours’ by Ver Más Australia and premiered various works including ‘Mercado’ with the Woollahra Philharmonic Orchestra, and a new guitar concerto commissioned by Andrew Blanch.
Current season engagements include with the North Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Willoughby Symphony Orchestra in a two-piano premiere with orchestra ‘Romanza y danza de los muertos’, and concerts with bandonéonist Stephen Cuttriss, including for Live at Lunch at the Concourse (Sydney), and with Nexas Quartet. Other recent highlights include as soloist the world premiere of his Libertango Suite with The Metropolitan Orchestra (conducted by Sarah-Grace Williams), a modular, widely-appealing piano concerto inspired by classic tango works by the legendary Astor Piazzolla. Composer-in-Residence with Willoughby Symphony Orchestra in 2017, Rojas performed as soloist his first piano concerto, The Latin, and completed the world premiere of Cantos Españoles, 3 Songs of Garçia Lorca with mezzo soprano Jenny Duck-Chong. Special performances include for Melbourne Recital Centre’s 10th birthday celebrations, City Recital Hall’s A Little Lunch Music series; Newcastle Music Festival, Australian Tango Festival, and with saxophonist Nick Russoniello and The Golden Age Quartet. As half of the Oblivion Tango Duo with Daniel Wallace-Crabbe, Rojas released the album Nocturna earning solid reviews in 2019.
Published by Reed Music Australia and the Australian Music Centre, Rojas’ solo CD, Latin Piano Expressions, was selected as Limelight magazine’s ‘Editor’s Choice’. Rojas’ musical experience also extends to composing and conducting for film, and as a passionate music educator, working with communities, schools, and festivals such as Queensland Music Festival. He is currently Program Director of Composition, at the University of Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
- “musical escapism at its finest... Rojas is a master of his craft, both as a pianist and composer. He played with exuberance... free flowing cadenzas with precision and immense grace”Limelight Magazine, Jan 2021Live review, Sydney Festival
- “I don't recall encountering tango of this quality made in Australia since Jose Luis Betancor's bandoneon wizardry was here in the 1990s.”Sydney Morning Herald, Aug 2019Nocturne album review, Oblivion Tango Duo: Rojas & Wallace-Crabbe
- "energetic and emphatic… joyously explosive… the audience applauded rapturously"Sydney Arts Guide, 2017Live review, Rojas' 'The Latin', WSO (Rojas as soloist)
- "Latin America, it would seem, has really arrived in Australian music!"Prof. Anne Boyd, Composer
- “Use of extreme reaches of the piano’s register and a configuration of stopped strings created disturbing sound worlds in Entre Bajos y Alturas by Daniel Rojas. The tortured tango of Ochos Entre Dos sounded like Piazzolla held captive at Azkaban”Canberra Times