Daniel Omar Rojas (b. 1974) was born in Santiago, Chile. From an early age he was taught piano and singing by his mother, an amateur Peruvian folk singer, and improvised short pieces at the piano. Rojas migrated to Melbourne, Australia, with his family at the age of six where his formal studies in piano, violin and music theory began. Throughout his musical development, Rojas cultivated an interest in the music of various cultures and focused particular attention on Peruvian Indigenous and folk music and Afro-Hispanic styles including salsa. Interest in ethnic music led him to perform with several world music ensembles, such as the Great Bowing Company, and to compose, arrange and direct various Latin big bands. He has also performed solo piano concerts in Australia, Japan, Spain, Venezuela and Peru.
In 1995, Rojas began a Bachelor of Music (Composition) degree at the University of Sydney where he graduated with First Class Honours and was awarded the University Medal. He was awarded a Master of Music (Hons) from the same institution and is currently enrolled in a PhD in Composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. His composition mentors have included Ross Edwards, Peter Sculthorpe, Anne Boyd, Ann Carr-Boyd, Colin Offord, Ian Shanahan, Richard Meale and Edward Primrose. Research into various Latin-American popular, folk and indigenous musical traditions inform the musical and aesthetic content of Rojas's compositional output.
Rojas has won several prizes including the Sydney Performing Arts Challenge for Best Composition in two consecutive years, the Fellowship of Australian Composers Award, Frank Albert Prize for Music, and the Keys National Piano Competition for Most Outstanding Australian Work (Danza de Montañas).
In 2005 Rojas was short listed for the Brian May Scholarship to study film scoring at Thornton School of Music. Commissions have included Stillness in the Heart, for Colin Offord with the Prima Musica Philharmonic Orchestra of Gent (released on Zoku/EMI Records, Belgium), and Danza Étnicas, to celebrate the cultural diversity of Sydney's South-West. He was one of three young Australian composers commissioned by the MSO for which he wrote Festival Afro-Andino as part of the 2004 21st Century Young Composers Program. This work was premiered as part of Melbourne's annual Metropolis Festival and was conducted by Marcus Stenz. Rojas was commissioned by Fr. Arthur Bridge to compose Concierto Para Piano: Latinoamericanismos, which was premiered by Zubin Kanga and the Sydney Youth Philharmonic Orchestra in 2006 under the direction of Dr. David Banney. Work in progress includes a text based on Christopher Smart's Jubilate Agno, scored for symphony orchestra, SATB choir and soli to celebrate Sydney Grammar School's 150 th anniversary at the Sydney Town Hall in November 2007.
His musical experience extends to composing and conducting for film, working as a music educator and as a rock music producer. Currently, Rojas teaches at the University of Sydney (Music Department) and is Composer-in-Residence at Sydney Grammar School.