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Symphony Welcomes New Music Director Rafael Payare to San Diego

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Rafael Payare accepts applause at Copley Symphony Hall. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Rafael Payare, the new music director of the San Diego Symphony, promised a “fresh and transparent” approach to classical music as he was officially welcomed Monday in Copley Symphony Hall.

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Payare, who is currently serving as music director of the Ulster Orchestra in Northern Ireland, will become the 13th music director in the symphony’s 108-year history on July 1, 2019. He will serve as music director designate prior to that date,

The 38-year-old Venezuelan native, who has been hailed as one of the most exciting conductors of his generation, was introduced to symphony supporters and civic leaders by symphony CEO Martha Gilmer.

Payare promised to “do what is right for the orchestra and the audience and enjoy the journey.”

Warren Kessler, chairman of the symphony board, noted that choosing a music director is “simply the most important event in the history and life of an orchestra.”

Payare, he said, was the last of 21 musicians considered, but the selection committee knew immediately after he conducted a concert in January that he was the one for San Diego.

“I will tell you unequivocally that the orchestra, the committee and the board of directors got it right,” Kessler said.

Payare’s first concerts in his new role will be over the weekend of Jan. 11 to 13. He will conduct Strauss, Britten and Shostakovich with his wife, acclaimed cellist Alisa Weilerstein, as the soloist.

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