Just Announced! 

Rafael Payare appointed Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal

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.

“It’s an immense honour and a pleasure to have been chosen as Music Director of the fantastic Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. To be given the opportunity to work, create and explore new musical possibilities with this wonderful group of artists 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”, states Rafael Payare.

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.

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.just

“He is a prodigious artist, who combines the gift of rare sound perfection with a deep, delicate, intense and quivering sensitivity.” – Le Monde

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 Denmark in 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.

“Rafael Payare’s passion, energy and determination, his Latin roots and his engaging personality are attributes that will undoubtedly appeal to Montreal audiences, especially since our next Music Director is driven by a strong desire to get involved in the community. His talent, creativity and leadership will help the OSM continue to shine on the world stage, whether on tour or through recordings adapted to different broadcast platforms.” – Madeleine Careau, Chief Executive Officer of the OSM

“Today’s announcement is the result of rigorous efforts that began in 2017 to choose a successor for Kent Nagano, who did not wish to renew his contract at the end of the 2019-2020 season. Based on solid selection criteria, our search was global in scope. It was an honour for me to chair this committee and I’m very happy with the result. We were able to identify a candidate of the highest quality, Rafael Payare, whom we unanimously recommended to the OSM’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors.” – Suzanne Fortier, chair of the selection committee for the OSM’s next Music Director

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 pm, and can be viewed free of charge at OSM.ca and Medici.tv. (on demand until January 17 on OSM.ca and for 90 days on Medici)

Berlioz, Le carnaval romain, Overture, op. 9 (8 min.)
Brahms, Symphony no. 1 in C minor, op. 68 (45 min.)

“Each time we play music, we should do it with utmost commitment and authenticity, as if we were taking our last breath.” — Rafael Payare