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Rafael Payare Maintains Major North American Presence in 2021-22 with Philadelphia Orchestra Debut, Plus Full Seasons as Montreal Symphony MDD and San Diego Symphony MD

Rafael Payare (photo: Gerard Collett)

Always “electrifying in front of an orchestra” (Los Angeles Times), Rafael Payare has enjoyed a momentous past few months. Recent weeks saw the Venezuelan conductor make his Cleveland Orchestra debut, lead his first concerts as Music Director Designate of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM), and, as Music Director of the San Diego Symphony (SDS), helm the resoundingly successful gala concert that inaugurated The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, the orchestra’s stunning new bayside open-air venue. Now Payare continues his string of high-profile appearances across North America with returns to Montreal and San Diego for full seasons of concerts, as well as his long-awaited Philadelphia Orchestra debut (Nov 11–13).

Looking ahead to the coming months, the conductor explains:

“My originally scheduled performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra last year was unfortunately postponed because of COVID-19, so I am very happy that we’re going to be able to work together at last. I’m truly thrilled about the prospect of making music with an orchestra that has so much experience and such a distinctive, colorful sound. It’s wonderful to be reunited with audiences again as well, and later this season I’m also really looking forward to touring with Chamber Orchestra of Europe, making my Danish Opera debut with Tosca, and returning to London’s Royal College of Music to work with its wonderful students in a program featuring Mahler’s Sixth Symphony. It’s going to be a very exciting season!”

Philadelphia Orchestra debut (Nov 11–13)

Passionate about the repertoire he performs, Payare chooses works that resonate with him personally and help him connect with both orchestras and audiences. Dvořák is one of the composers in whose music the conductor has already made his mark. At the Blossom Music Festival this past summer, he made his Cleveland Orchestra debut with a performance of the “New World” Symphony that was “ablaze with color” (Cleveland Classical), after joining the Montreal Symphony earlier this year for “an inspiring and emotional concert” that he “directed with intensity and strength.” As Bachtrack’s five-star review continued, the program concluded with an account of Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony in which the conductor “controlled the proceedings through his careful choice of a moderate tempo, allowing the effective structure to unfold with an inevitability that was hugely impressive.”

Now Dvořák’s Seventh is the vehicle for Payare’s first guest conducting engagement of the fall. Marking his eagerly anticipated Philadelphia Orchestra debut, the symphony will be bookended by Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture and the world premiere of a new Clarinet Concerto by Jacob Bancks, whose accolades include honors from the National Endowment for the Arts and American Academy of Arts and Letters. A Philadelphia Orchestra co-commission, Bancks’s concerto features the ensemble’s principal clarinetist, Latin Grammy nominee Ricardo Morales, as soloist (Nov 11–13).

Recent success and upcoming dates with San Diego Symphony

In August, Payare returned to the San Diego Symphony (SDS) for the first time since before the pandemic’s hiatus to inaugurate The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. Designed to showcase the venue’s state-of-the-art acoustics, his wide-ranging program featured the world premiere of a new commission from Mason Bates and guest appearances by Ryan Speedo Green, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Alisa Weilerstein. The concert drew national notice in the New York Times as well as on CBS and PBS NewsHour, which dubbed it “perhaps the grandest opening of a music venue in the COVID-19 era.” The San Francisco Classical Voice found Payare’s program “more interesting and satisfying than most hall-opening programs,” while the San Diego Union-Tribune, hailing the concert as an “eye-popping bang of a show,” observed:

“Under Payare’s expert leadership, the 78-piece orchestra performed with passion, pinpoint dynamic precision and crystalline clarity throughout Friday’s concert, playing with equal [parts] power and grace.”

As for the new hall, it was widely recognized as “a project of such architectural and acoustical distinction that it would distinguish San Diego on any national cultural map” (New York Times).

Payare reunites with the San Diego Symphony for five further programs at the Rady Shell this fall, as well as for spring performances to be announced shortly. Upcoming highlights include symphonies by Tchaikovsky (Oct 16 & 17) and Beethoven (Oct 29 & 30), in addition to collaborations with mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung (Oct 16 & 17) and pianist Jonathan Biss (Nov 5 & 6).

First season as MDD of Montreal Symphony

On the heels of his San Diego success, Payare went on to launch his first season as Music Director Designate of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM) with an Opening Night program combining Shostakovich’s searing Fifth Symphony with Ravel’s La valse and Kaléidoscope by Montreal native Pierre Mercure. The concert was captured on film, and the resulting webcast is now available on Canada’s and Europe’s platforms, as well as at the orchestra’s website, where it will be available on demand until November 2. His second program with the orchestra, which featured Brahms’s Second Symphony and violinist Hilary Hahn, found Payare “at the top of his game” (Le Devoir).

Meanwhile the conductor looks forward to leading five more OSM programs this season. These include symphonies by Beethoven (May 31–June 2), Bruckner (Jan 12 & 13) and Sibelius (Dec 8 & 11), as well as collaborations with bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green (May 31–June 2) and pianist Daniil Trifonov (April 20 & 21). More information is available here.

High-resolution photos are available here.

Rafael Payare: 2021-22 engagements

Oct 16 & 17
San Diego, CA
San Diego Symphony (SDS)

L. BOULANGER: D’un soir triste
L. BOULANGER: D’un matin de printemps
MAHLER: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (with Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano)
TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No. 5

Oct 23
San Diego, CA
San Diego Symphony (SDS)
Family Concert

RAVEL: Mother Goose Suite
PROKOFIEV: Peter and the Wolf (with Gill Sotu, narrator)

Oct 29 & 30
San Diego, CA
San Diego Symphony (SDS)

WAGNER: Overture to Tannhäuser (Dresden version)
RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Alexander Gavrylyuk, piano)
CARLOS SIMON: Fate Now Conquers
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 7

Nov 5 & 6
San Diego, CA
San Diego Symphony (SDS)

SMETANA: “Die Moldau” from Má vlast
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor” (with Jonathan Biss, piano)
BARTÓK: Concerto for Orchestra

Nov 11–13
Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Orchestra (debut)

BERLIOZ: Roman Carnival Overture
JACOB BANCKS: Clarinet Concerto (world premiere of Philadelphia Orchestra co-commission; with Ricardo Morales, clarinet)
DVOŘÁK: Symphony No. 7

Dec 2
Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra

MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 18 (with Jonathan Fournel, piano)
STRAUSS: Alpine Symphony

Dec 8 & 11
Montreal, Quebec
Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM)

TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Inon Barnatan, piano)
SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 1

Jan 12 & 13
Montreal, Quebec
Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM)

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7

Jan 16
Montreal, Quebec
Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM)

MOZART: Symphony No. 29
Additional works (with winner of 2021 OSM Competition, voice category)

Jan 22 & 23
Miami Beach, Florida
New World Symphony

RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with George Li, piano)
ELGAR: Variations on an Original Theme (“Enigma Variations”)

Feb 10
London, England
Royal College of Music

Educational residency

Feb 13–20
Chamber Orchestra of Europe: Scandinavian tour

MOZART: Overture to Don Giovanni
SCHUMANN: Violin Concerto
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3

Feb 13: Lahti, Finland
Feb 17: Bergen, Norway
Feb 19: Oslo, Norway
Feb 20: Aalborg, Denmark

April 2, 6, 9, 13, 26, 30; May 3
Copenhagen, Denmark
Royal Danish Opera


April 15 & 16
Houston, TX
Houston Symphony

LISZT: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano)

April 20 & 21
Montreal, Quebec
Montreal Symphony Orchestra (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 Orchestra (OSM)

Children’s Gala

May 31; June 1 & 2
Montreal, Quebec
Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM)

(With Karina Gauvin, soprano; Michèle Losier, mezzo-soprano; Frédéric Antoun, tenor; Ryan Speedo Green, bass-baritone; OSM Chorus; Andrew Megill, chorusmaster)

BRAHMS: Schicksalslied
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9

June 3
Montreal, Quebec
Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM)

Summer Gala

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© 21C Media Group, October 2021


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