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Manuel Obregón, Costarrican Pianist and Composer Receives Honorary Degree



Manuel Obregon at York University Toronto

Internationally known jazz and blues musician Manuel Obregón received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at York University on June 16, 2015. Following his acceptance speech, Obregón performed a short piece from his repertoire.

In the last 20 years, Manuel Obregón’s performances have showcased the symbiotic interrelation between music and the environment, incorporating visual images of the Costa Rican rainforest, ocean, and animal life, as well as the sounds of those environments as part of his piano works. He is also a producer and founder of the Papaya Orchestra, the first Central American orchestra that combines traditional instruments and rhythms with urban music and modern influences.

Manuel Obregón is also an environmentalist and public servant. In the field of politics, he served as Costa Rica’s minister of culture and youth from 2010 to 2014. Under his administration, he shifted the notion that culture was an expense to the idea that culture is an investment in people. He was able to connect cultural production in Costa Rica with the preservation of heritage and with environmental conservation.

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Photos of Manuel Obregón by Atael Weissman (click on photos to enlarge)

Atael Weissman’s main occupation is as an engineering consultant. Born, raised and educated in one of the former Soviet Union republics, which is now Latvia. He lived in Israel and now in Canada, for the last 28 years. Photography and jazz music have been his main hobbies for many years -perfect combination.

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