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Rafael Payare



Rafael Payare’s 2023–24 season marks his second year as music director of Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and his fifth as music director of California’s San Diego Symphony, the latter relationship recognized as one of the most dynamic in North America. He previously served as principal conductor and music director of the Ulster Orchestra from 2014 to 2019, appearing twice at the BBC Proms (2016 and 2019), and now holds the title of the ensemble’s conductor laureate in recognition of his vast artistic contribution to the orchestra and City of Belfast.

With his gift for communication and irresistibly joyous spirit, Payare works with the world’s leading orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmoinc, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Berlin Staatskapelle, New York Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and The Cleveland Orchestra. He had enjoyed collaborating with soloists including Daniil Trifonov, Frank Peter Zimmerman, Vilde Frang, Hilary Hahn, Gil Shaham, Jean- Yves Thibaudet, Alisa Weilerstein, Piotr Anderszewski, Sergey Khachatryan, Emmanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, and Dorothea Röschmann. Current season highlights include returns to The Philadelphia Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, Orchestre National de France, and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.

As an opera conductor, Payare has conducted at the Glyndebourne Festival, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Staatsoper Berlin, Royal Stockholm Opera, and Royal Danish Opera. In July 2012 he was invited by his mentor, the late Lorin Maazel, to conduct at his Castleton Festival in Virginia; in July 2015 Payare was appointed principal conductor and conducted performances of Gounod’s Romeo and Juliette and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in Maazel’s memory.

An inspiration to young musicians, Payare has forged a close relationship with London’s Royal College of Music, annually conducting its symphony orchestra, and has led projects with the Chicago Civic Orchestra, Orchestra of the Americas, and Filarmonica Joven de Colombia.

Born in 1980 and a graduate of Venezuela’s El Sistema, Rafael Payare began his conducting studies in 2004 with José Antonio Abreu, and has conducted that country’s the major orchestras, including the Simón Bolívar Orchestra. As principal horn of the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, Payare participated in tours and recordings with conductors including Giuseppe Sinopoli, Claudio Abbado, Simon Rattle, and Lorin Maazel. In May 2012 Payare was awarded First Prize at the Malko International Conducting Competition.

Upcoming 2023-2024 Performances

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