Rafael Payare begins as Montreal Symphony’s music director designate

Posted on: November 2, 2021

Rafael Payare, music director designate of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Photo by Yannis Guibinga

“In September, when Rafael Payare began his tenure as music director designate of the fabled [Orchestre symphonique de Montréal], … Payare led the OSM in a free outdoor concert … on the concrete esplanade in front of the city’s iconic Olympic Stadium,” writes Paul Wells in Friday’s (10/29) Maclean’s magazine (Canada). “Payare, a willowy 41-year-old Venezuelan with a formidable shock of curly hair, led the orchestra in a set of crowd-pleasing highlights from Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Manuel de Falla and Alberto Ginastera. The crowd … ate it up…. As a successor to [Charles] Dutoit and [Kent] Nagano, Payare [is] a largely unknown quantity…. To the OSM, this was actually part of the appeal. Madeleine Careau, the OSM’s CEO … reminded me that Dutoit was 37 when he came to Montreal, Nagano 48. Neither was widely considered a star then either…. The highlight of [Payare’s] first concert at the Maison symphonique was Dmitri Shostakovich’s 1937 Fifth Symphony…. Payare elicited an astonishing performance. Sometimes he exchanged smiles of delight with individual members of the orchestra…. Payare looks like fun but sounds like business.” Payare is also music director the San Diego Symphony; he becomes the OSM’s music director in 2022.