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San Diego Symphony Welcomes New Music Director

San Diego Symphony kicks off a new era as it welcomes its new music director Rafael Payare.

Jahja Ling retired as conductor and music director at San Diego Symphony after a 13-year stint. Picking someone to replace him was no easy task. The symphony’s search began more than three years ago with a short list of candidates. But when Rafael Payare guest conducted in San Diego this past January something clicked.

"When you go on a date and you have that chemistry, that kind of electricity, that’s what happened when I came here in January. It was a beautiful process how we were making music. Everything was so alive. Then we did the concert, and I think the audience felt that also, so it was very exciting," Payare said.

Payare was welcomed Monday as music director designate for San Diego Symphony with a ceremony on stage at Symphony Hall. Payare begins a four-year contract immediately as music director designate for the first year, and then assumes the role of music director in 2019. According to the symphony's website, Payare will debut at the San Diego podium in his new role in January, when he kicks off the fourth annual San Diego Symphony January festival.

Payare is currently music director of the Ulster Orchestra, principal conductor of the Castleton Festival and honorary conductor of Sinfonietta Cracovia. Payare will conduct the San Diego Symphony for 10 weeks each season including performances in the Bayside Summer Nights season at the orchestra’s summer home.

Photo caption:

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Rafael Payare was welcomed Monday in a ceremony on stage at Symphony Hall as the new music director at San Diego Symphony, April 30, 2018.

In a press release, the symphony described Payare's credits: "Since being awarded first prize at the Malko Conducting Competition in 2012, Payare is celebrated as one of the most exciting conductors of his generation and has made debuts with: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, London Symphony, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, amongst others."

San Diego Symphony kicks off a new era as it welcomes its new music director Rafael Payare.


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Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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