Nominated for the Latin Grammy (2013) as a classical composer at the age of 27, Rafael has a degree in Classical Composition (2004-2009) and Brazilian Jazz Studies (2007-2011) from UNICAMP (São Paulo, Brazil). He has a Master of Music Degree in Studio Jazz Writing (2011-2013) and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Jazz Composition (2013-2016), both from University of Miami. During those 5 years at University of Miami Rafael also worked as a composer and assistant conductor at the Henry Mancini Institute receiving the ASCAP Foundation Henry Mancini Music Fellowship.
As a composer and arranger he had works premiered and/or recorded by artists and ensembles such as the jazz legends Terence Blanchard and Chick Corea (2013), rising jazz start Gregory Porter (2014), rock star Steve Miller (2013), Latin pop star Jon Secada (2013), Symphonic Jazz Orchestra (Los Angeles, 2016), Orquestra Jazz Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo (Brazil, 2016), Camerata Latino Americana (2015), UNICAMP Symphony Orchestra (2011 and 2015), Metropole Orkest (Netherlands, 2014), FIU Symphony Orchestra (Miami, 2014), Costa Rica National Orchestra (2013-2015), Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra (2011-16), Frost Concert Jazz Band (2012-16), UNICAMP Collective Orchestra (2009-2011), Campinas String Ensemble (2008) and Campinas Symphony Orchestra (2004 and 2014).
As a conductor, Rafael was one of five young conductors selected to participate in the Brazilian TV contest ”Prelude” for classical musicians (2010), conducted many of the ensembles which have performed his works and lead 4 ensembles to win graduate student Downbeat Awards: Henry Mancini Chamber Ensemble (classical group, 2013), Frost Recording Ensemble (Latin group, 2013), Frost Salsa Orchestra (Latin group, 2015) and Rafael Piccolotto de Lima Large Ensemble (Latin group, 2016).
As a researcher, Rafael was a FAPESP fellow (2010-1011) with the work: "The Brazilian BIG BAND – Samba compositions and arrangements by Nailor Azevedo (Proveta) for Banda Mantiqueira".
Rafael released in October of 2008 his first CD with the group “Caruwa” (chamber Brazilian music), sponsored by the FICC award; being selected again in 2011 for the recording of the CD "Transfigurações Brasileiras" with his Quartet. This second recording was recognized by Downbeat Magazine in its Student Award Edition (2012) as "Outstanding Performance in Original Composition”.
Other awards include other a total of 11 DOWNBEAT Awards (as band leader, recording engineer, composer for small and large ensemble, and arranger), an honorary award on the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra comission competition (2016), ASMAC Pete Rugolo BIG BAND Arranging and Composing Competition (2015), ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award (2014 and 2015), JEN Student Showcase Award (2014), ARS BRASILIS national arrangers contest in tribute to Milton Nascimento (2012), the first place in the Ricardo Rizek Latin American Composition Contest II for young composers (2009), and São Paulo State award in the FURNAS: GERAÇÃO MUSICAL III (2008-2009) for young musicians as a composer and performer with his quartet.