Rafael Payare’s profound musicianship, technical brilliance and charismatic presence on the podium has elevated him as one of the most sought-after conductors. The 21-22 season will mark his third season as Music Director of San Diego Symphony and already their relationship has been recognised as one of the most dynamic in North America. In January 2021, Payare was announced as the next Music Director of Orchestre symphonique de Montréal from the 22-23 season.
Payare kicks off his 21-22 season with the San Diego Symphony, to inaugurate the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, their stunning new open-air venue. He then looks forward to giving his first concerts as Music Director Designate of Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, opening their season with concerts at La Maison Symphonique as well as Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. Further highlights in the 21-22 season include debuts with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Houston Symphony as well as his subscription debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
As an opera conductor, he will make his debut at the Danish Opera conducting Tosca. He made his acclaimed debut at Glyndebourne Festival in 2019 conducting Il barbiere di Siviglia and has conducted Madama Butterfly and La Bohème for Royal Swedish Opera and a new production of La Traviata at Malmo. In 2012, he was personally invited by his mentor, the late Lorin Maazel, to conduct at his Castleton Festival in Virginia and was appointed Principal Conductor in 2015. Since then he has conducted performances of Gounod’s ‘Romeo and Juliette’ and a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 in memory of Lorin Maazel.
Since winning the first prize at the Malko International Conducting Competition in May 2012 he has conducted some of the world’s leading orchestras including the Vienna Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Munich Philharmonic, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Pittsburgh Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. Soloists with whom he has enjoyed collaborations include Daniil Trifonov, Frank Peter Zimmerman, Gil Shaham, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Nikolai Lugansky, Elina Garanca, Christiane Karg, Alisa Weilerstein, Nikolaj Znaider, Piotr Anderszewski, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Sergey Khachatryan, Emmanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, and Dorothea Röschmann.
Rafael was previously Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Ulster Orchestra from 2014 – 2019. He now holds the title of Conductor Laureate in recognition of the vast artistic contribution he gave to the Orchestra and City of Belfast during his five year tenure. He also holds the title of honorary conductor of the Sinfonietta Cracovia.
An inspiration to young musicians, Payare has forged a close relationship with the Royal College of Music in London where he visits every season to lead their Symphony Orchestra and has led projects with the Chicago Civic Orchestra, Orchestra of the Americas and the Filarmonica Joven de Colombia. Born in 1980 and a graduate of the celebrated El Sistema in Venezuela, Payare began his formal conducting studies in 2004 with José Antonio Abreu. He has conducted all the major orchestras including the Simón Bolívar Orchestra.
Having also served as Principal Horn of the Simón Bolívar Orchestra, he took part in many prestigious tours and recordings with conductors including Giuseppe Sinopoli, Claudio Abbado, Sir Simon Rattle and Lorin Maazel.