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San Diego Symphony names Rafael Payare as its next music director

  • Internationally acclaimed conductor Rafael Payare has been named as the San Diego Symphony’s new music director.
  • He has conducted some of the world’s leading orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
  • The 37-year-old Venezuelan native has signed a four-year contract and will make his San Diego debut as music director with the symphony in January.
  • He is a product of the same Venezuelan education program, El Sistema, as Gustavo Dudamel, the 37-year-old music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
  • Payare is married to cello star Alisa Weilerstein. When not embarked on concert tours, they live in Berlin with their young daughter.

Rafael Payare, one of the classical music world’s most charismatic and acclaimed young conductors, has been selected as the San Diego Symphony’s next music director, the orchestra announced Tuesday morning.

The 37-year-old Venezuelan native will succeed Maestro Jahja Ling, who last year concluded his 13th and final season with the symphony. Payare begins immediately in his role as music director designate. He will officially assume his role as music director July 1, 2019, and make his debut as music director early next year when he conducts the orchestra in its fourth annual January festival.

Payare has signed a four-year contract, with options to renew, and it calls for him to conduct 10 weeks here each season. His salary was not disclosed.

Payare will be the 15th conductor since 1910 to guide the symphony, which gained long-term financial security in 2002 following a landmark $120 million pledge from Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs and his wife, Joan.

Currently the music director of Ireland’s Ulster Orchestra — a position in which he will continue — Payare is a product of El Sistema. That’s the same Venezuelan education program that trained his friend, fellow conductor Gustavo Dudamel, the music director of the Los Angeles…

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