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Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare's profound musicianship, technical brilliance and charismatic presence on the podium has elevated him as one of the most sought after young conductors, working regularly with the world's leading orchestras. In September 2014, he was appointed Principal Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra in Northern Ireland and made his BBC Proms debut with them in August 2016. In September 2017 the Orchestra named him Music Director in recognition of the huge impact he has made on the Orchestra and the community of Northern Ireland.
In February 2018, Payare was announced as the next Music Director of San Diego Symphony from the 2019-20 season.
In January 2015, he made his acclaimed debut with the Vienna Philharmonic conducting subscription concerts at the Vienna Musikverein and at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris. He returned to the Orchestra in June 2018 to conduct concerts at the Vienna Konzerthaus with mezzo soprano, Elina Garanca.
As a guest conductor, he has worked with many leading ensembles including the London Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, Staatskapelle Dresden, Munich Philharmonic, Deutsche Symphonie Orchester Berlin, Los Angeles Philharmonic, NHK Symphony and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. Highlights of the 2018-19 season will include return visits to the Philharmonia Orchestra at London’s Southbank, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Bamberger Symphoniker, Danish National Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra at London’s Barbican Centre. He will also debut with the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Detroit Symphony. He also enjoys a special relationship with the Sinfonietta Cracovia who recently named Payare as their Honorary Conductor. Soloists with whom he has enjoyed collaborations include Daniil Trifonov, Frank Peter Zimmerman, Gil Shaham, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Nikolai Lugansky, Christiane Karg, Alisa Weilerstein, Nikolaj Znaider, Piotr Anderszewski, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Sergey Khachatryan, Jonathan Biss and Dorothea Röschmann.
As an opera conductor, he has conducted Madame Butterfly and La Boheme at the Royal Swedish Opera he will make his debut at Glyndebourne Festival in 2019 conducting Barbiere and will conduct a new production of La Traviata at Malmo Opera. In July 2012, he was personally invited by his mentor, the late Lorin Maazel, to conduct at his Castleton Festival in Virginia and in July 2015 he was appointed Principal Conductor and conducted performances of Gounod 'Romeo and Juliette’ and a performance of Beethoven Symphony No 9 in memory of Lorin Maazel.
Born in 1980 and a graduate of the celebrated El Sistema in Venezuela, 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 Orchestra. Having also served as Principal Horn of the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, he took part in many prestigious tours and recordings with conductors including Giuseppe Sinopoli, Claudio Abbado, Sir Simon Rattle and Lorin Maazel.
In May 2012, Payare was awarded first prize at the Malko International Conducting Competition.