Raphael Jiménez

  • Ruth Strickland Gardner Professor of Conducting
  • Director, Oberlin Orchestras

Areas of Study


  • BM, Instituto Universitario de Estudios Musicales, Venezuela, 1996
  • MM, Michigan State University, 1999
  • DMA, Michigan State University, 2001


Born in Florida and raised in Venezuela, conductor Raphael Jiménez began his musical life as a violinist. While he was a member of the Simón Bolívar National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, he was assigned his first conducting responsibility at the Venezuelan National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras (El Sistema). He was soon conducting all the professional orchestras in the country and was appointed principal conductor of the Caracas National Ballet at age 22.

Praised for his “tightly wrought” and “stirring, vividly shaped” renditions (New York Times) and for his “delicious buoyancy and impeccable taste” (Washington Times), Jiménez is celebrated for his work with orchestras around the world, with recent engagements in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. As a ballet conductor, he has collaborated with several ballet companies, including recent performances with the New York City Ballet at Lincoln Center. He has also served as music director for opera productions with companies in Caracas, Venezuela, at the Teresa Carreño Center for the Performing Arts; Lubeck, Germany; and Palm Beach, Florida. 

Equally comfortable on the podiums of professional and preprofessional ensembles, Jiménez is recognized for his deep commitment to education. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel wrote: “The [orchestra], conducted by Raphael Jiménez, played [with] a professional sheen rarely heard from student ensembles.”

Jiménez devotes great effort to the promotion of new music—especially works by Latin American composers—and he has been recognized for his diverse and eclectic programming. He has had the privilege of premiering numerous works, including the world premiere of and flowers pick themselves, featured on the eponymous recording.

He enjoys a very active career, including frequent invitations to conduct symphonic concerts, ballets, and opera productions to critical acclaim. Recent appearances include performances in China with the orchestras of Zhejiang and Guanxi; in Latin America with the symphony orchestras of Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, and Puerto Rico; and leading the opera orchestras of Lubeck in Germany and Palm Beach in Florida. He has also conducted the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, the Florida Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica Municipal de Caracas, Lansing Symphony, Battle Creek Symphony, and the Filene Center Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.

Spring 2025

Conducting IV: Advanced Instrumental — APST 351
Oberlin Orchestra/Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble — APST 709
Oberlin Sinfonietta/Oberlin Chamber Orchestra — APST 724


Raphael Jimenez leads Ashland Symphony performance

October 21, 2019

Oberlin Orchestras director Raphael Jimenez appears as the guest conductor of the Ashland Symphony Orchestra at Loudonville’s Historic Ohio Theatre on Sunday, October 27. The program of Bach, Telemann, Vaughan Williams, and Haydn also features the solo performance by Lisa Jelle, professor of flute at Capital University.



Pianist Jiongli Wang to Perform with Oberlin Chamber Orchestra

May 2, 2024

On Friday, May 3, the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra performs a program that will showcase Concerto Competition winner Jiongli Wang in Frédéric Chopin’s First Piano Concerto, as well as fourth-year composition student Cashel Day-Lewis in the premiere of his Black River Prelude commissioned by Oberlin Conservatory in honor of the Lorain County Bicentennial.