Rafael Payare conducts the symphony. Photo courtesy San Diego Symphony

The San Diego Symphony‘s season opening on the first weekend in October will feature a futuristic composition by contemporary California composer Mason Bates and Gustav Mahler’s monumental Fifth Symphony.

The concerts on Saturday, Oct. 5, and Sunday, Oct. 6, will be conducted by Rafael Payare, who began his role as music director on July 1. Venezuelan-born Payare is the 13th music director in the symphony’s 108-year history.

First on the program is Bates’ time-traveling “Alternative Energy,” whose traditional melodies take listeners on a journey exploring the influence of technology on humanity into an imagined 23rd century.

Mahler’s Fifth is one of the grandest and most ambitious — yet still deeply personal — works ever written for orchestra, known for its emotional range, dramatic arc and expressiveness. Written in 1901 and 1902, it includes the famed Adagietto, a love song to the then 41-year-old Austrian composer’s wife.

The concerts are scheduled for 8 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday at Copley Symphony Hall in downtown San Diego. Tickets are available online.

Payare will conduct four other concerts in the Jacobs Masterworks series this year on Oct. 11-12, Nov. 1-2, Nov. 8-12 and Nov. 15-17. That last will feature his wife, acclaimed cellist Alisa Weilerstein, in a program of Bach, Bloch and Strauss.

He will also conduct five concerts in 2020, concluding with Beethoven’s groundbreaking Symphony No. 9 on May 22, 23 and 24 in honor of the great composer’s 250th birthday.

The entire season is notable for performance of seven contemporary works, including three by California composers, and appearances by eight women artists.

“It is a wondrous experience to work with an incoming music director on his very first season. In 10 weeks of programs during the 20192020 season we will be immersed in Rafael Payare’s concept and vision for his future music making with our orchestra. I am so excited to hear the season unfold,” said San Diego Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.