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This summer, Rafael Payare conducts Turandot at Berlin State Opera; leads nine festival programs as MD of Canada’s Orchestre symphonique de Montréal; & returns to The Rady Shell as MD of San Diego Symphony

(June 2024) — Always “electrifying in front of an orchestra” (Los Angeles Times), Venezuelan
conductor Rafael Payare kicks off the summer with Puccini’s Turandot at the Berlin State
Opera (July 6–14). As Music Director of Canada’s Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
(Montreal Symphony Orchestra / OSM), he leads the ensemble at two Quebec festivals,
performing Mahler’s Seventh Symphony and more at the Festival de Lanaudière (July 19–Aug
3) and repertoire ranging from Verdi’s Requiem to works for the Middle Eastern oud and
orchestra at OSM’s own “La Virée classique” (Aug 14–18). Also serving as Music Director of
California’s San Diego Symphony (SDS), he and the orchestra draw the summer to a festive close
with a “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. These engagements follow
the release this past spring of the conductor’s new Mahler/Strauss recording, on which he and
OSM deliver “performances of consummate power” (Classical Explorer).

Turandot at Berlin State Opera

A dedicated opera conductor, Payare has led productions on such celebrated stages as those of
the Royal Swedish Opera, Royal Danish Opera, and England’s Royal Opera House and
Glyndebourne Festival, leading performances that proved “irresistible” (The Guardian), “full of
character” (Financial Times), and “perfectly judged” (The Times of London). Now, after making
his Staatskapelle Berlin debut with season-opening concerts and an appearance at the 2023
Musikfest Berlin last fall, Payare reunites with the venerable German orchestra for Puccini’s
Turandot at the Berlin State Opera. This will star Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska,
whose “sumptuous voice fills out Puccini’s soaring lines effortlessly” (New York Classical Review),
with Armenian tenor Arsen Soghomonyan as Calaf, Guatemalan soprano Adriana González as
Liù, and two-time Grammy-winning German bass René Pape as Timur, in a revival of the
acclaimed production by German Film Critics Award winner Philipp Stölzl (July 6, 9 & 14).

Summer festivals with OSM

When Payare appeared with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal at New York’s Carnegie
Hall last year, they “deliver[ed] some of the most marvelous performances in memory” (New
York Classical Review). Now, by way of a postscript to OSM’s 90th anniversary season, and his
second as its Music Director, Payare leads the orchestra at two summer festivals in Quebec.

They launch the summer with four concerts in the amphitheater of Joliette’s Festival de
Lanaudière, which accommodates audiences of up to 6,000. Baritone Matthias Goerne joins
them for Wagner on a program that also features Richard Strauss’s tone poem Also sprach
Zarathustra (July 19). Next follow an all-Russian evening (July 20), a celebration of French
Impressionism (Aug 2), and Mahler’s monumental Seventh Symphony, “Song of the Night” (Aug
3). Their recording of the Bohemian composer’s Fifth Symphony was named an editor’s choice
by both Gramophone and BBC Music magazine, whose five-star review declared: “Hand on heart,
it’s a long while since I’ve enjoyed a new Mahler Five as much as this.”

Payare and the orchestra go on to anchor the eleventh edition of OSM’s own annual festival, “La
Virée classique” (“Classical Spree”), which aims to strengthen community ties, promote musical
discovery, and encourage emerging artists. Presented al fresco at Montreal’s Esplanade Parc
Olympique, their Kick-Off Concert juxtaposes Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, and Respighi with a pair
of concertante works by Joseph Tawadros, both featuring the Egyptian-Australian composer as
soloist on the lute-like oud (Aug 14). Their remaining festival programs take place at OSM’s home
in the Maison symphonique. The OSM Chorus and vocal soloists Joyce El-Khoury, Rihab
Chaieb, Dovlet Nurgeldiyev, and Adam Palka join them for two accounts of Verdi’s Requiem
(Aug 16 & 18). These bookend a trio of programs performed in a single day, featuring guest
appearances by mezzo-soprano Emily Sierra, pianist Cédric Tiberghien, guitarist Miloš,
Tawadros, Ensemble Constantinople, and Ensemble Obiora, in music by an eclectic array of
composers including Baroque Moldovan Dimitrie Cantemir, Scandinavians Nielsen and Grieg,
French Romantics Saint-Saëns and Mélanie “Mel” Bonis, Spaniards Albéniz and Rodrigo, and
three living composers of Middle Eastern heritage: Tawadros, Karim Al-Zand, and Iran’s Kiya
Tabassian (Aug 17).

After these summer festival appearances, Payare and OSM launch their 2024-25 season with
performances of Gurre-Lieder by Schoenberg, whose 150th anniversary falls this year (Sep 11
& 13), before embarking on their second major European tour together. Showcasing Berlioz’s
Symphonie fantastique, Richard Strauss’s Alpine Symphony, and renowned pianist Daniil
Trifonov, this takes them to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich,
and Vienna (Nov 19–30).

Tchaikovsky at The Shell with San Diego Symphony

In his first five seasons as Music Director of California’s San Diego Symphony, Payare’s
leadership has already proven transformative, prompting the Los Angeles Times to marvel: “He is
electrifying in front of an orchestra. … San Diego is suddenly a symphonic destination.” As
the San Diego Reader recently reported, “When Rafael Payare conducts the San Diego
Symphony Orchestra, it’s different. … Payare is a non-stop ball of musical energy that
grows and grows and grows.”

He and the SDS conclude the summer with a “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” at The Rady Shell at
Jacobs Park, the orchestra’s stunning open-air venue. Juno-nominated violinist Blake Pouliot
joins them for the Russian composer’s Violin Concerto, and their interpretation of his iconic 1812
Overture will be accompanied by a pyrotechnic firework display over the bay (Aug 30).

For the past four years, the Jacobs Music Center, SDS’s indoor home, has been undergoing full
modernization and renovation. To celebrate its reopening, Payare and the SDS look forward to
launching the 2024-25 season with a star-studded Opening Night concert featuring the world
premiere of Welcome Home!, a festive new fanfare commissioned expressly for the occasion from
award-winning Korean American composer Texu Kim (Sep 28).

Past season highlights: SDS at Carnegie Hall & new recording with OSM

Payare’s upcoming engagements follow a full and successful 2023-24 season. Highlights included
the San Diego Symphony’s first appearance in a full decade at New York’s Carnegie Hall last fall, of
which New York Classical Review observed:

“The epicenter of symphonic activity in the Golden State seemed to shift southward Friday night,
at least in Carnegie Hall, as the San Diego Symphony, led by its music director Rafael Payare,
showed it could go toe-to-toe and note-for-note with those more storied ensembles up the

Spring saw the release of Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben and Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder, which Payare
recorded with OSM and soprano Sonya Yoncheva for the Pentatone label. Gramophone declared
Payare an “enthusiastic podium presence” who gave Ein Heldenlebena performance of real
flair.” Calling the recording quality “top-notch,” Classical Explorer pronounced the album “a
fabulous coupling delivered in performances of consummate power.” Of Payare’s
interpretation of Strauss’s tone poem, the review noted:

“The string detail, Payare’s awareness of Strauss’ polyphony and his ability to create a core
Straussian richness while losing none of the transparency mark this out as one of the most
beautiful, compelling Heldenlebens around.”

High-resolution photos are available here.

Rafael Payare: upcoming engagements

July 6, 9 & 14
Berlin, Germany
Berlin State Opera
Staatskapelle Berlin
PUCCINI: Turandot

July 19
Joliette, QC
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Festival de Lanaudière
MOZART: Overture from Die Zauberflöte
WAGNER: “Wotan’s Farewell” from Die Walküre (with Matthias Goerne, baritone)
R. STRAUSS: Also sprach Zarathustra

July 20
Joliette, QC
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Festival de Lanaudière
TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Yoav Levanon, piano)

Aug 2
Joliette, QC
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Festival de Lanaudière
RAVEL: Ma mère l’Oye
CHAUSSON: Poème for Violin and Orchestra (with Andrew Wan, violin)
DEBUSSY: Ibéria from Images pour orchestre
RAVEL: Boléro

Aug 3
Joliette, QC
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Festival de Lanaudière
MAHLER: Symphony No. 7, “Song of the Night”

Aug 14
Montreal, QC
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Esplanade Parc Olympique
Festival Virée classique OSM (Kick-off concert)
With André Robitaille, host
TCHAIKOVSKY: Francesca da Rimini
Joseph TAWADROS: Permission to Evaporate (with Joseph Tawadros, oud)
BERLIOZ: Roman Carnival Overture
Joseph TAWADROS: Constantinople (with Joseph Tawadros, oud)
RESPIGHI: Pini di Roma

Aug 16 at 7pm
Montreal, QC
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Festival Virée classique OSM
VERDI: Requiem (with Joyce El-Khoury, soprano; Rihab Chaieb, mezzo-soprano; Dovlet Nurgeldiyev, tenor;
Adam Palka, bass; OSM Chorus)

Aug 17 at 1:30pm
Montreal, QC
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Festival Virée classique OSM
With Ensemble Constantinople
NIELSEN: Helios Overture
CANTEMIR: Gavesht samai, Samai-e Lang
GRIEG: “Peer Gynt’s Homecoming” from Peer Gynt, Suite No. 2
CANTEMIR: Bousalik pishrow
GRIEG: “Anitra’s Dance” from Peer Gynt, Suite No. 1
Kiya TABASSIAN: Chavosh
GRIEG: “Arabian Dance” from Peer Gynt, Suite No. 2
SAINT-SAËNS: Piano Concerto No. 5, “Egyptian” (with Cédric Tiberghien, piano)

Aug 17 at 4:30pm
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Festival Virée classique OSM
With Ensemble Obiora
ALBÉNIZ: “Asturias” from Suite española No. 1
Joseph TAWADROS: Eye of the Beholder (with Joseph Tawadros, oud)
Joseph TAWADROS: Point of Departure (with Joseph Tawadros, oud)
Karim AL-ZAND: Luctus Profugis, lament for string orchestra and percussion
Joseph TAWADROS: Sleight of Hand (with Joseph Tawadros, oud)
TCHAIKOVSKY: Souvenir de Florence

Aug 17 at 8pm
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Festival Virée classique OSM
ROSSINI: L’italiana in Algeri Overture
RAVEL: Cinq mélodies populaires grecques
BIZET: Carmen, excerpts (with Emily Sierra, mezzo-soprano)
BONIS: Salomé
RODRIGO: Concierto de Aranjuez (with Miloš, guitar)

Aug 18 at 3pm
Montreal, QC
Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
Festival Virée classique OSM
VERDI: Requiem (with Joyce El-Khoury, soprano; Rihab Chaieb, mezzo-soprano; Dovlet Nurgeldiyev, tenor;
Adam Palka, bass; OSM Chorus)

Aug 30
San Diego, CA
San Diego Symphony
The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park
TCHAIKOVSKY: Violin Concerto in D (with Blake Pouliot, violin)
TCHAIKOVSKY: 1812 Overture

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© 21C Media Group, June 2024

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