Rafale Payare
Rafael Payare conducting the San Diego Symphony. Photo courtesy of the symphony

The San Diego Symphony announced Thursday that music director Rafael Payare has extended his contract for an additional four years, through the 2025-26 season.

Payare’s first full season was 2019-20, but it ended abruptly with the stay-at-home orders in March that were prompted the coronavirus pandemic.

The Venezuelan-born maestro, who has been celebrated as one of the most exciting conductors of his generation, is the 13th music director in the symphony’s 110-year history.

“As a musician Rafael Payare has the perfect balance of making the musicians feel secure and at the same time, taking necessary artistic risks to make each and every performance exciting,” said Martha Gilmer, CEO of the symphony. “While he strives for the highest level of precision, he asks every musician to be their most expressive self which creates riveting, impactful and emotional performances for our musicians and our audiences.

“With this contract extension we assure that the work of Rafael with the musicians of San Diego continues, assuring the very strong and vital future of the San Diego Symphony,” she added.

Payare will be in residence with the symphony for 10 weeks every season, conducting concerts at both Copley Symphony Hall and The Shell, the new bayfront amphitheater.

“I’m excited to be extending our time together on this wonderful journey,” said Payare. “I’ve loved every moment of getting to know the orchestra more deeply and growing together. I look forward to keeping the momentum of the past few years going and taking the audience with us on this musical voyage, which will include exploring repertoire and doing things on different scales and in different ways.”

Payare and his wife, acclaimed cellist Alisa Weilerstein, have homes on San Diego and Berlin.

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