Rafael Payare new music director of Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal

Rafael Payare

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal (OSM) announced today that Rafael Payare will become its next Music Director, effective from the 2022-2023 season for a minimum of five years. Mr. Payare assumes the position of Music Director Designate from September 1, 2021, taking over from Maestro Kent Nagano, who held the position of Music Director from 2006 to 2020.

Mr. Payare’s debut with the Orchestra in 2018 was a hugely memorable occasion, and his natural rapport with the OSM musicians was immediate. This connection was reaffirmed on his return to the Orchestra in 2019.

“It’s an immense honour and a pleasure to have been chosen as the next Music Director of the fantastic Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. To be given the opportunity to work, create and explore new musical possibilities with the wonderful group of artists that is the OSM, is a hugely exciting prospect. It is my heartfelt wish that, in close synergy with the musicians, we can give the OSM’s audience many moments of joy, pride and hope,” said Rafael Payare.

Rafael Payare new OSM music director for 2022-2023

Mr. Payare’s appointment was unanimously endorsed by the selection committee for the OSM’s next Music Director. The 11-member committee, which included three OSM musicians, was chaired by Suzanne Fortier, Principal and Vice-chancellor of McGill University.

Rafael Payare, who is forty, is one of the most prominent and internationally sought-after conductors of his generation. His innate musicianship, his brilliant technique and the charisma he radiates on the podium characterize his musical style and approach. Mr. Payare trained as a French horn player and graduated from the acclaimed music education program El Sistema. His talent was soon recognized by Maestro José Antonio Abreu, El Sistema’s founder, with whom he began his formal studies in orchestral conducting in 2004.

Since winning the prestigious Malko International Competition for Young Conductors in Denmarkin 2012, Mr. Payare’s career has advanced rapidly. From 2014 to 2019, he was Music Director of the Ulster Orchestra and since 2019 he has been Music Director of the San Diego Symphony. 

In recent years, he has conducted many of the world’s most prestigious symphony orchestras, in, Berlin Vienna, London, Munich, Chicago and Paris, among others. Mr. Payare has been Principal Conductor of the Castleton Festival since 2015, which was founded by his mentor, the late Lorin Maazel.

Rafael Payare, born in Venezuela, will become the ninth Music Director in the history of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, and the first conductor from the South American continent to hold this position.

As artist-in-residence for the 2020-2021 season, Rafael Payare will conduct three OSM concerts that will be webcast in the coming weeks. The first of the three will be presented live this Sunday, January 10, starting at 2:30 p.m., and can be viewed free of charge at OSM.ca and Medici.tv. The next Music Director of the OSM will conduct Berlioz’ Roman Carnival and Brahms’ Symphony no. 1 in C minor, op. 68.

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