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San Diego Symphony Returns to Carnegie Hall for First Time In Ten Years (Oct 13), Celebrates Grand Reopening of Renovated Jacobs Music Center (Nov 4)

(April 2023) — Continuing to go from strength to strength under Music Director Rafael Payare – always “electrifying in front of an orchestra” (LA Times) – and CEO Martha Gilmer, the San Diego Symphony (SDS) will return after a long absence to its historic home at Jacobs Music Center in November 2023, stopping first in New York to perform at Carnegie Hall for the first time in ten years (Oct 13). The Carnegie program features the New York premiere of a San Diego Symphony commission by composer Carlos Simon, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 and Dvořák’s celebrated Cello Concerto with soloist Alisa Weilerstein. In the meantime, the orchestra returns to the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park – the open-air bayside venue “of such architectural and acoustical distinction that it would distinguish San Diego on any national cultural map” (New York Times) – for its Conrad Prebys 2023 Summer Season. Payare helms the Opening Concert, which combines Rachmaninoff and Bernstein with the West Coast premiere of Salseando by Latin Grammy-nominee Roberto Sierra. Blending jazz improvisation with salsa rhythms and melodies, Sierra’s concerto showcases its dedicatee, award-winning Venezuelan trumpeter Pacho Flores, as soloist (June 30). The SDS’s annual “Beethoven by the Bay” program features Eric Lu, a pianist with “the magic touch of … Murray Perahia and Radu Lupu” (The Guardian), under the baton of emerging young conductor Johann Stuckenbruck (Aug 4). After a Rady Shell lineup that also includes artist tributes to Aretha Franklin and others, live screenings of Apollo 13 and other movies, a “Broadway Romance” and more, the orchestra concludes its summer season with a “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” led by Australian conductor Christopher Dragon and capped by the composer’s beloved 1812 Overture (Sep 1). More information about the Rady Shell is available here.

His Carnegie Hall appearance with SDS marks the third high-profile performance by Rafael Payare in the past year, after a New York Philharmonic debut and a March performance – again in Carnegie Hall – with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, of which he is also Music Director. The San Diego Symphony program continues the orchestra’s exploration of Shostakovich’s symphonies, after a digital release of his Symphony No. 11 this spring on the Platoon label, and it marks the first New York area performance together for Payare and Weilerstein, offstage a married couple with two young children. It also serves to herald the gala reopening of San Diego’s Jacobs Music Center after a $125 million renovation and restoration. Payare explains:

“For any of the world’s orchestras, an appearance at Carnegie Hall is a thrilling showcase. For us, it is also the prelude to a return to San Diego to inaugurate our own home venue, Jacobs Music Center, now made more beautiful and enjoyable than ever.”

The reopening of the Jacobs Music Center follows the 2021 opening of the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, the orchestra’s much-lauded outdoor venue on San Diego’s picturesque waterfront.

Following the gala reopening, the orchestra will offer a season of wide-ranging programs – from Mahler’s enormous “Resurrection” Symphony to staged performances of Prokofiev’s music for Romeo and Juliet – to reintroduce audiences to the Jacobs Music Center. Other 2023-24 season highlights include “The Ring Without Words,” a symphonic journey through Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle, conducted by Payare as an homage to his mentor, Lorin Maazel; world premieres of compositions by Texu Kim, Carlos Simon, and Vladimir Tarnopolsky; and the West Coast premieres of works by Mason Bates, Gabriela Ortiz and Billy Childs.

About Rafael Payare

One of today’s most sought-after conductors, renowned for his profound musicianship, technical brilliance, and charismatic presence, Rafael Payare assumed the leadership of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra as its Music Director on July 1, 2019. Payare served as Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Ulster Orchestra from 2014 through 2019 and was named Conductor Laureate in recognition of his artistic contributions. He also has served as Principal Conductor of the Castleton Festival and Honorary Conductor of the Sinfonietta Cracovia. In 2022, Payare assumed the role of Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM). As a guest conductor, he has led many of the world’s great orchestras, including the Vienna Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, and Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. As an opera conductor, Payare made his acclaimed debut at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2019 and has conducted at the Royal Swedish Opera and Malmo Opera.

Born in Venezuela in 1980 and a graduate of El Sistema, Payare began his formal conducting studies in 2004 with José Antonio Abreu. He has conducted all the major orchestras in Venezuela, including the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, in which he served as Principal Horn and took part in many tours and recordings with conductors including Giuseppe Sinopoli, Claudio Abbado, Sir Simon Rattle, and Lorin Maazel. In May 2012, Rafael Payare was awarded first prize at the Malko International Conducting Competition.

About the San Diego Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1910, the San Diego Symphony is the oldest orchestra in California and one of the largest and most significant cultural organizations in San Diego. The orchestra performs for more than 250,000 people each season, offering a wide variety of programming at its two much-loved venues, Jacobs Music Center in downtown San Diego (now under renovation) and the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park in San Diego Bay. In early 2018, the San Diego Symphony announced the appointment of Rafael Payare as music director. Payare leads the orchestra’s 82 full-time musicians, graduates from the finest and most celebrated music schools in the United States and abroad. The San Diego Symphony also serves as the orchestra for the San Diego Opera each season, as well as performing at several regional performing arts and community centers. For more than 30 years, the San Diego Symphony has provided comprehensive learning and community engagement programs reaching more than 65,000 students annually and bringing innovative programming to San Diego’s diverse neighborhoods and schools. For more information, visit

High-resolution photos are available here. 

San Diego Symphony summer/fall highlights
June 30
San Diego, CA
The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park
Summer 2023 Opening Night: Rafael Payare and Pacho Flores
Rafael Payare, conductor
Pacho Flores, trumpet
BERNSTEIN: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Roberto SIERRA: Salseando for Trumpet and Orchestra
RACHMANINOFF: Symphonic Dances, Op. 45

Aug 4
San Diego, CA
The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park
Beethoven by the Bay
Johann Stuckenbruck, conductor
Eric Lu, piano
BEETHOVEN: Overture to Fidelio, Op. 72c
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat minor, Op. 55, “Eroica”

Sep 1
San Diego, CA
The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park
Tchaikovsky Spectacular
Christopher Dragon, conductor
Steven Lin, piano
TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 23
TCHAIKOVSKY: Sleeping Beauty Suite, Op. 66a
TCHAIKOVSKY: 1812 Overture, Op. 49

Oct 13
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage)
Rafael Payare, conductor
Alisa Weilerstein, cello
Carlos SIMON: New Commission
DVOŘÁK: Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47

Nov 4
San Diego, CA
Jacobs Music Center: Grand Opening Night
Rafael Payare, conductor
Steven Banks, saxophone
Liv Redpath, soprano
Texu KIM: Welcome Home!! Fanfare for Jacobs Music Center (World Premiere, SDS Commission)
R. STRAUSS: Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streich (Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks), Op. 28
Billy CHILDS: New Work for Saxophone and Orchestra
MOZART: Exsultate jubilate, K. 165 (158a)

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© 21C Media Group, April 2023


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