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After String of North American Triumphs, Rafael Payare Returns to Europe for Concert at London’s Royal College of Music, First Tour with Chamber Orchestra of Europe & Debut at Royal Danish Opera

Rafael Payare (photo: J. Henry Fair)

After maintaining a major North American presence this past fall, Rafael Payare returns to Europe for a series of high-profile engagements. Tomorrow he conducts the 2022 Rod Williams Memorial Concert at London’s Royal College of Music (Feb 10), next week he embarks on a three-city Scandinavian tour that marks his Chamber Orchestra of Europe debut (Feb 17–20), and this spring he makes his Royal Danish Opera debut with Tosca (April 2–May 3). These dates follow the Venezuelan conductor’s full fall season, which saw him lead his first concerts as Music Director Designate of the Montreal Symphony, continue to wow critics and audiences as Music Director of the San Diego Symphony, and make a sensation with his long-awaited Philadelphia Orchestra debut. “Payare is electric,” declared the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He seems to hit the jackpot wherever he goes.” Styling the conductor “a fireball of energy onstage,” the Wall Street Journal affirmed: “He is a musician to watch.”

Payare says:

“It’s fantastic to be heading back to Europe. Because of the pandemic I had no engagements there at all in the 2020-21 season, which hasn’t happened since 2011. As for the repertoire I’ll be doing, I’m extremely excited to plunge into the other side of Mahler. Up until his Sixth, his symphonies were full of joy and hope. But in Mahler’s Sixth, particularly in the finale, he is seeing something more ominous – he’s at peace, and then a dark cloud comes over it.

“Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ is, of course, phenomenal, and represents such an important point in music history. It will be a great joy to make music again with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. I did my masterclass with them and Bernard Haitink at the Lucerne Festival and thought afterwards how wonderful it would be to make music with them. And after not being able to do opera last season, I am so excited to be conducting Puccini’s Tosca in Copenhagen. Passion, betrayal, tragedy – it’s got everything you want in an opera, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Tomorrow (Feb 10), Payare returns to London’s Royal College of Music to conduct the RCM Symphony Orchestra in the 2022 Rod Williams Memorial Concert, which will stream live on the RCM website. Held annually since 1996, this prestigious event has previously attracted such eminent conductors as Vladimir Jurowski, Sir Roger Norrington and the late Bernard Haitink, while Payare himself has led two previous programs in the series. Now invited back for a third, he opens this year’s program with Darker America by William Grant Still, a leading composer of the Harlem Renaissance, who described his blues-inflected work as “representative of the American Negro” in its evocation of “triumph over sorrows through fervent prayer.” Payare pairs the tone poem with the monumental Sixth Symphony by Mahler, of whose music he has already proven himself a formidable interpreter. After a collaboration with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pronounced his account of the composer’s First Symphony “spectacular Mahler,” and confided: “One hopes that Mr. Payare will return in future seasons.”

Next Thursday (Feb 17), Payare makes his first appearance with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, hailed as “the finest chamber orchestra in the world” (BBC2, UK), launching a Scandinavian tour highlighted by the ensemble’s Norwegian debut. At concerts in Bergen, Norway (Feb 17), Oslo (Feb 19) and Aalborg, Denmark (Feb 20), he conducts the overture to Mozart’s Don Giovanni followed by Schumann’s Violin Concerto, with Gramophone and BBC Music Award-winning Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang as soloist, before drawing the program to a close with Beethoven’s mighty “Eroica” Symphony. It was Payare’s reading of Beethoven’s Seventh that prompted the San Diego Tribune to marvel: “Sheer joy and thrill. … I don’t know what Payare does to get the orchestra to play with such passion!

To complete his trio of European engagements, Payare makes his debut at Copenhagen’s Royal Danish Opera, where he takes the podium for a six-performance run of Puccini’s Tosca (April 2–May 3). Maria Pia Piscitelli and Ann Petersen share the title role, opposite Niels Jørgen Riis’s Cavaradossi and Jens Søndergaard’s Scarpia in a revival of Peter Langdal’s classic staging. No stranger to the opera house, Payare has previously led productions at San Diego Opera, Royal Swedish Opera and Glyndebourne, where his leadership of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville offered “just the right blend of precision and panache, prompting a performance full of character from the London Philharmonic Orchestra” (Financial Times, UK).

Back in North America, the coming months also see Payare continue his full season of live and streamed concerts with the Montreal Symphony, reprise his interpretation of Beethoven’s “Eroica” with the Houston Symphony, and return to the San Diego Symphony for concerts showcasing Saint-Georges’s Ninth Violin Concerto and the U.S. premiere of Paquito D’Rivera’s Concerto venezolano as well as a pair of programs at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, the orchestra’s stunning new bayside open-air venue.

High-resolution photos are available here.

Rafael Payare: upcoming engagements

Feb 10
London, UK
Royal College of Music
RCM Symphony Orchestra
2022 Rod Williams Memorial Concert
STILL: Darker America
MAHLER: Symphony No 6

Feb 17–20: Scandinavian tour with Chamber Orchestra of Europe (debut)
   Feb 17: Bergen, Norway
   Feb 19: Oslo, Norway
   Feb 20: Aalborg, Denmark
MOZART: Overture to Don Giovanni
SCHUMANN: Violin Concerto (with Vilde Frang, violin)
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

Feb 26 & March 2: California concerts with San Diego Symphony
   Feb 26: San Diego, CA
   March 2: Palm Desert, CA
Andrew NORMAN: Drip Blip Sparkle Spin Glint Glide Glow Float Flop Chop Pop Shatter Splash
NERUDA: Concerto in E-flat for trumpet and strings (with Pacho Flores, trumpet)
Paquito D’RIVERA: Concerto venezolano for trumpet and orchestra (U.S. premiere of San Diego Symphony co-commission; with Pacho Flores, trumpet)
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 4

March 5 & 6
San Diego, CA
San Diego Symphony
SCHNITTKE: Moz-Art à la Haydn
SAINT-GEORGES: Violin Concerto No. 9 (with Jeff Thayer, violin)
MOZART: Serenade No. 10 in B-flat, “Gran Partita”

April 2, 6, 9, 26 & 30; May 3
Copenhagen, Denmark
Royal Danish Opera (debut)

April 15 & 16
Houston, TX
Houston Symphony
S. GUBAIDULINA: Fairy Tale Poem
LISZT: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano)
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

April 20 & 21
Montreal, Quebec
Montreal Symphony (OSM)
DUKAS: La Péri
SCHNITTKE: Concerto for piano and string orchestra (with Daniil Trifonov, piano)
PROKOFIEV: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Daniil Trifonov, piano)

April 23
Montreal, Quebec
Montreal Symphony (OSM)
Children’s Ball
Details TBC

May 21 & 22
San Diego, CA (The Rady Shell)
San Diego Symphony
Esa-Pekka SALONEN: Nyx
PROKOFIEV: Violin Concerto No. 1 (with Veronika Eberle, violin)
RAVEL: Daphnis & Chloé Suite No. 2

May 27 & 28
San Diego, CA (The Rady Shell)
San Diego Symphony
ELGAR: Cello Concerto (with Alisa Weilerstein, cello)
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9, “Choral” (with Felicia Moore, soprano; Ronnita Miller, mezzo-soprano; Mario Chang, tenor; Peixin Chen, bass; San Diego Master Chorale)

May 31; June 1 & 2
Montreal, Quebec
Montreal Symphony (OSM)
BRAHMS: Schicksalslied
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9, “Choral” (with Karina Gauvin, soprano; Michèle Losier, mezzo-soprano; Frédéric Antoun, tenor; Ryan Speedo Green, bass; OSM Chorus; Andrew Megill, chorusmaster)

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© 21C Media Group, February 2022


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