Costa Rican Talent: Manual Obregon


Born in the serious family of politicians, no one ever believed that Manual Obregon would be known as one of the greatest musician, pianist, composer and producer in America. His love and commitment to his passion is proved by the fact that he serves as the current Minister of Culture of Costa Rica.

Obregon was born in 1961 in San Jose, Costa Rica. The sound of music pulled him to it at a tender age of seven. He started to learn the piano with his grandmother Mercedes Vaverde and went on to pursue this art to the Conservatory of University of Costa Rica and then at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid.

It was the genre of jazz that completely overwhelmed him. He strived to learn it and by 1982 he attended the classroom of Modern Music and Jazz with Jean Luc Vallet in Spain and the Swiss Jazz School in Switzerland with Silvano Bazan, who were both the living legends of the time.

From the start, his practice and studies went hand in hand with his work to promote and serve for music. Having the politician in his blood, he was then the cultural diplomat of Costa Rican government in Europe.

His journey in music is fascinating and worth admiring. Over the years, he has produced over twenty albums solo and is acknowledged as a fabulous artist. Moreover, he has worked very hard to get other artists and musicians together and get their love and work for music appreciated. His most prized achievement is thus, laying the stone of The Papaya Orchestra.

Manuel Obregon

The Papaya Orchestra first organized in January 2002 was a local amalgamation of fourteen artists from the seven states of Central America. In 2003, it became bigger when this movement was named as Papaya Music. It encompassed all performers, instrumentalists, technicians and producers. And from then onwards, this label functioned to bring everyone who lived for music together and promote and up bring the music of America.

Though his work has revolved around theatre, film and dance, his true passion lies in Jazz. He finds it comforting and pleasing to syndicate this music with nature and old-style musicians. Over the years, he was found a balance between teaching, tradition and experiments. He has generously worked for many bands and artists including Afro Cosmos, Cahuita, Sporadic Jazz Quartet, Gospel Caribbean Papaya Orchestra and Malpais.

His solo albums have always made headlines. He discs include his first album Piano Solo, Angel Piano and Away, Passion, Genesis, OM, Dry Land, Wade in the Water, Sweet Land of Waiting, Mangoré Tribute, Limonese Calypso Legends, Malango Piano, There Are Children Here, Asia Africa America, Back Home and his most recent album Symbiosis, Piano and Tropical Forest.

His eternal creations need to introduction or awards to decorate on shelves. Nevertheless, his work has been acknowledges and appreciated with awards like Best Concert of the Year in October 2000 by the music critics in New Orleans and several from the Costa Rican Association of Composers and Musical Authors ACAM. Among them are the one the Best Instrumental Music for Piano Malango in 2010 and the Best Original Music for the soundtrack “Password, a look into the dark”.  He has also been awarded International Honorary Citizen by Mayor Marc H. Morial.

Countless musicians from Costa Rica have proved to the world, their love for music time and again and Manual Obregon is a name that ranks among the highest on the list.