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High-Profile 2022-23 Season Sees Rafael Payare Launch Tenure as Montreal Symphony MD; Continue Transformative Work as San Diego Symphony MD; and more

August 10, 2022 | By 21C Media Group

Rafael Payare (photo: Gerard Collett)

 

(August 2022) — Always “electrifying in front of an orchestra” (Los Angeles Times), Rafael Payare “seems to hit the jackpot wherever he goes” (Philadelphia Inquirer). The Venezuelan conductor looks forward to a high-profile season in 2022-23. To inaugurate his new role as Music Director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM), he gives 24 concerts in Quebec and embarks on two major international tours, with fall dates in London, Vienna, Brussels, Budapest and Zagreb, followed by spring concerts at Washington’s Kennedy Center (March 6) and New York’s Carnegie Hall (March 8). The Carnegie concert marks the second New York appearance of Payare’s conducting career to date, following his eagerly anticipated New York Philharmonic and New York conducting debuts (Dec 1–3). The coming season also sees his San Francisco Symphony debut (May 11–13) and company debut at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Feb 2–22); his return to the podiums of the Cleveland Orchestra (April 6–8), Los Angeles Philharmonic (April 13–16), London Symphony Orchestra (Feb 23) and Munich Philharmonic (March 22–24); and eight weeks of concerts in the fourth season of his already transformative tenure as Music Director of California’s San Diego Symphony (SDSO).

Focus on Shostakovich and Mahler symphonies

Styling the conductor “a fireball of energy onstage,” the Wall Street Journal affirms: “He is a musician to watch.” Payare was 14 years old when he began his musical education in Venezuela’s El Sistema training program. It was there, as a horn player and then as an apprentice conductor, that he developed a burning sense of mission. Sharing the belief of his mentor, conductor José Antonio Abreu, that music is a right, not a privilege, Payare feels strongly that musicians must play every concert “as if their life depended on it.” These values infuse his approach to music-making and are manifest in his impassioned, compelling performances across a wide range of repertoire.

Two composers whose symphonies figure prominently in his 2022-23 programming are Shostakovich and Mahler. Captured live with the San Diego Symphony, Payare’s 2022 Platoon recording of Shostakovich’s Eleventh Symphony, “The Year 1905,” was hailed as “a mandatory purchase” by Fanfare magazine, which marveled:

“It’s guaranteed to put both conductor and orchestra on the map in a big way. In my opinion, any orchestra that can play like this is automatically and instantly elevated to one of the top-tier ensembles in the country, and any conductor who can lead it as Payare does is automatically and instantly elevated to the status of a top-tier conductor.”

Now the Russian composer’s Twelfth Symphony is the vehicle for Payare’s New York Philharmonic debut, as well as for concerts with the San Diego Symphony. He also performs Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony with the Cleveland Orchestra and features the composer’s Tenth at home and on tour with the Montreal Symphony. Payare has likewise made his mark on the music of Mahler, with his interpretation of the composer’s First Symphony hailed as “spectacular Mahler” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), while his “approach to the Fifth is riveting celebration” (Los Angeles Times). In his inaugural Montreal Symphony season, Payare looks forward to launching a new, multi-year Mahler cycle with accounts of the Second, Third and Fifth symphonies at home and on tour, and he performs the composer’s Fourth with the San Diego Symphony.

First season as Music Director of Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM)

Even before taking up his new position as Music Director of the Montreal Symphony – the only Canadian nominee in the history of Gramophone’s Orchestra of the Year award – Payare has enjoyed an affinity with OSM that has already drawn notice. As Gramophone reports, “Payare made his debut with the orchestra in 2018, and the rapport he’s developed with them made him the unanimous choice of the eleven-member selection committee.” When he and OSM collaborated last February, their performance prompted a five-star review in Bachtrack, which declared:

“This was an inspiring and emotional concert that showcased the superb quality of musicianship and beauty of sound of the OSM …, directed with intensity and strength by Rafael Payare.”

Two focal points of their inaugural season together include a year-long celebration of choral music and connectedness, showcasing the OSM Chorus in works that range from Christmas carols to the Cantata criolla, and the launch of the multi-year Mahler cycle, over the course of which they look forward to performing the Austrian composer’s complete symphonies and major vocal works. Embracing both themes, two of Mahler’s choral symphonies bookend their first season. Joined by vocal soloists Dorothea Röschmann and Karen Cargill, they kick off 2022-23 with the composer’s Second Symphony (“Resurrection”), paired with the world premiere of Time, a new OSM co-commission from his countryman, Thomas Larcher (Sep 14–17), before drawing the season to a close with Mahler’s longest and most life-affirming symphony, the Third, featuring mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung (May 31–June 3).

Symphonies by Shostakovich and Mahler anchor both Payare’s upcoming international OSM tours. Their first European tour together takes them to five great musical capitals in collaboration with violinist Augustin Hadelich, pianists Vikingur Ólafsson and Bruce Liu, and the choristers of the Wiener Singakademie this fall. This sees the conductor and orchestra perform Mahler’s Fifth Symphony at the Vienna Konzerthaus (Oct 24) and Brussels’s BOZAR (Oct 27), as well as undertaking Shostakovich’s Tenth in Zagreb (Oct 21), in Budapest (Oct 22), at the Vienna Konzerthaus (Oct 23) and at London’s Royal Festival Hall (Oct 28), after preview performances in Montreal (Oct 12 & 13).

Payare and OSM look forward to revisiting Mahler’s monumental Fifth Symphony on their U.S. tour next spring. With a program that also includes Dorothy Chang’s Precipice and Bartók’s Second Piano Concerto, featuring Grammy-winner Yefim Bronfman, this takes in destinations including Washington’s Kennedy Center (March 6) and New York’s Carnegie Hall (March 8), after which they reprise the same program back home in Montreal (March 9).

This fall, Payare and the orchestra also join the OSM Chorus, a full cast of actors, and award-winning director Catherine Vidal for a staged adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that intersperses Mendelssohn’s beloved incidental music with excerpts from the Shakespeare comedy (Sep 21 & 22). To round out their first autumn lineup, the Music Director helms a Bach cantata matinee (Sep 24 & 25), a festive holiday program (Dec 14 & 15) and a pairing of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique with Lonely Child, the most personal work by murdered Quebecois composer Claude Vivier, in which Grammy-winning Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan makes her OSM debut (Dec 7, 10 & 11).

Next spring, Payare leads an evening of Richard Strauss, whose music has special resonance for him, coupling the composer’s tone poem Ein Heldenleben with his final masterpiece, the Vier letzte lieder, featuring Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva (March 28 & 30). MacArthur award-winning cellist Alisa Weilerstein, the Music Director’s wife, joins Payare and the orchestra for the same composer’s Don Quixote, heard alongside their world premiere performances of Melita, a new OSM commission from two-time Juno Award-winning Composer-in-Residence Ana Sokolovic. Keen to integrate more works of Latin American origin into OSM’s repertoire, the conductor concludes the program with the potent, three-movement Cantata criolla by his compatriot Antonio Estévez, for which the Music Director and orchestra will be joined by the OSM Chorus and vocal soloists Aquiles Machado and Gustavo Castillo (April 26 & 27). Last season, Payare and OSM gave the same composer’s Mediodía en el Llano “a Rolls Royce performance” (Bachtrack).

Fourth season as Music Director of San Diego Symphony (SDSO)

Payare has already proven himself transformative as Music Director of San Diego Symphony. In 2019, when the conductor first launched his Californian tenure, the San Diego Union-Tribune declared: “From Payare’s concert downbeat, … the San Diego Symphony elevated itself to a new plateau.” The Los Angeles Times subsequently noted, “Payare is already electrifying the San Diego Symphony,” concluding: “San Diego is suddenly a symphonic destination.”

Payare kicks off the fourth season of his directorship with Verdi’s Requiem, featuring vocal soloists Leah CrocettoJennifer Johnson CanoLimmie Pulliam and Aleksey Bogdanov with the San Diego Master Chorale. These season-opening concerts take place at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, the orchestra’s stunning new bayside open-air venue, hailed by the New York Times as “a project of such architectural and acoustical distinction that it would distinguish San Diego on any national cultural map” (Oct 1 & 2). Payare’s fall SDSO collaborations also include performances of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Prokofiev’s Sinfonia concertante with Alisa Weilerstein (Oct 7), Brahms’s First Symphony and Liszt’s Second Piano Concerto with Marc-André Hamelin (Nov 17), and a return to the Rady Shell for the U.S. premiere of Thomas Larcher’s Time, an SDSO co-commission. This shares the program with Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto, featuring Emanuel Ax, and Shostakovich’s Twelfth Symphony, “The Year 1917” (Nov 12 & 13). It was with the SDSO that Payare made his acclaimed recording of the Russian composer’s searing Eleventh Symphony, “The Year 1905,” released earlier this year.

Next spring, the conductor and orchestra undertake Mahler’s Fourth Symphony (April 21 & 22), before concluding their season with a pair of programs at the Rady Shell. As one of the first six participants in the League of American Orchestras’ Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Orchestral Commissions Program for female composers, SDSO gives the world premiere of a new commission from award-winning composer Gity Razaz, together with Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto, featuring Inon Barnatan, “one of the most admired pianists of his generation” (New York Times), and Dvor?ák’s Seventh Symphony (May 20 & 21). Finally, Payare and orchestra join the San Diego Master Chorale for accounts of Estévez’s vividly cinematic Cantata criolla (May 26 & 27).

Guest engagements: three major debuts and more

Payare steps up his international reach with three major debuts this season. For his New York Philharmonic debut, he leads a program of Still’s Darker America, Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto with Emanuel Ax as soloist, and – marking the work’s New York Philharmonic premiere – Shostakovich’s Twelfth Symphony, “The Year 1917” (Dec 1–3). Later in the season, for his previously postponed San Francisco Symphony debut, Payare reprises Still’s Darker America alongside Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben and Brahms’s Violin Concerto, featuring three-time Grammy-winner Hilary Hahn (May 11–13).

Early next year, the conductor makes his company debut at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where he takes the podium for Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, starring Aigul Akhmetshina, Andrzej Filonczyk, Lawrence Brownlee and Bryn Terfel in Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s classic production (Feb 2–22). When Payare helmed the same opera at Glyndebourne, the Financial Times observed: “Payare’s conducting is just the right blend of precision and panache, prompting a performance full of character from the London Philharmonic Orchestra.”

Payare also returns to four of the preeminent orchestras with which he has already forged relationships. After making his debut with the Cleveland Orchestra last year, when his account of Dvorák’s “New World” Symphony was “ablaze with color” (Cleveland Classical), he returns next spring to lead Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony and Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety,” with Jean-Yves Thibaudet as piano soloist (April 6–8). For his reunion with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Payare – a former member of the orchestra’s fellowship program – pairs Darker America with Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder, featuring soprano Dorothea Röschmann (April 13–16).

The conductor returns to two great European orchestras next year, opening both programs with Sofia Gubaidulina’s Fairytale Poem. With the London Symphony Orchestra, he follows the tone poem with music by two of the Russian composer’s compatriots: Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird, in the complete, original version, and Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto, with BBC Music Award-winning Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang (Feb 23). Finally, with the Munich Philharmonic, Payare combines Gubaidulina’s work with Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote and Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto, featuring Japanese pianist Kyohei Sorita, a top prize-winner at the 2021 Chopin Competition (March 22–24).

High-resolution photos are available here.

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Rafael Payare: 2022-23 engagements

Sep 14–17
Montreal, Canada
Montreal Symphony Orchestra
MAHLER: Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection” (with Dorothea Röschmann, soprano; Karen Cargill, mezzo-soprano; OSM Chorus)
Thomas LARCHER: Time (world premiere of OSM co-commission)

Sep 21, 22m & 22
Montreal, Canada
Montreal Symphony Orchestra
MENDELSSOHN: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, incidental music (with OSM Chorus; Andrew Megill, chorusmaster)
Excerpts from Shakespeare’s text in French (with Catherine Vidal, stage director; Samuël Côté: Theseus & Oberon; Sofia Blondin: Hippolyta & Titania; Mattis Savard-Verhoeven: Lysander; Rebecca Vachon: Hermia; Simon Beaulé-Bulman: Demetrius & Bottom; Valérie Tellos: Helena; Tiffany Montambault: Puck)
DEBUSSY: Nocturnes [Sep 21 & 22 eve only]

Sep 24m & 25m
Montreal, Canada
Montreal Symphony Orchestra Chamber Series
(With OSM musicians; Myriam Leblanc, soprano; Allyson McHardy, mezzo-soprano; Andrew Haji, tenor; Stephen Hegedus, bass; OSM Chamber Choir; Andrew Megill, chorusmaster)
BACH: Gott, wie dein Nameso ist auch dein Ruhm, BWV 171
BACH: Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott, BWV 101
BACH: Es erhub sich ein Streit, BWV 19

Oct 1 & 2
San Diego, CA
San Diego Symphony
(With Leah Crocetto, soprano; Jennifer Johnson Cano, mezzo-soprano; Limmie Pulliam, tenor; Aleksey Bogdanov, baritone; San Diego Master Chorale)
VERDI: Requiem

Oct 7
San Diego, CA
San Diego Symphony
WEBER: Overture to Der Freischütz
PROKOFIEV: Sinfonia concertante (with Alisa Weilerstein, cello)
BEETHOVENSymphony No. 5

Oct 12 & 13
Montreal, Canada
Montreal Symphony Orchestra
LISZT: Les préludes (Oct 12 only)
RAVEL: Ma mère l’Oye, Suite (Oct 13 only)
RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G (with Víkingur Ólafsson, piano)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 10

Oct 21–28: European tour with Montreal Symphony Orchestra

Oct 21: Zagreb (Vatroslav Lisinski Hall)
LISZT: Les préludes
RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G (with Víkingur Ólafsson, piano)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 10

Oct 22: Budapest (Müpa)
LISZT: Les préludes
RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G (with Víkingur Ólafsson, piano)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 10

Oct 23: Vienna (Konzerthaus)
R. MURRAY SCHAFER: Scorpius
RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (with Bruce Liu, piano)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 10

Oct 24: Vienna (Konzerthaus)
BRAHMS: Nänie & Schickalslied (with Wiener Singakademie)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 5

Oct 27: Brussels (BOZAR)
PROKOFIEV: Violin Concerto No. 5 (with Augustin Hadelich, violin)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 5

Oct 28: London (Royal Festival Hall)
R. MURRAY SCHAFER: Scorpius
RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G (with Vikingur Ólafsson, piano)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 10

Nov 12 & 13
San Diego, CA
San Diego Symphony
Thomas LARCHER: Time (U.S. premiere of SDS co-commission)
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Emanuel Ax, piano)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 12, “The Year 1917”

Nov 17
San Diego, CA
San Diego Symphony
WAGNER: Prelude and Liebestod from “Tristan und Isolde”
LIZST: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Marc-André Hamelin, piano)
BRAHMS: Symphony No. 1

Dec 1–3
New York, NY
New York Philharmonic (debut)
STILL: Darker America
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Emanuel Ax, piano)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 12, “The Year 1917”

Dec 7, 10 & 11
Montreal, Canada
Montreal Symphony Orchestra
NONO: Djamila Boupacha
SIBELIUS: Valse triste
VIVIER: Lonely Child (with Barbara Hannigan, soprano)
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique

Dec 14, 15m & 15
Montreal, Canada
Montreal Symphony Orchestra
(with OSM Chorus; Andrew Megill, chorusmaster; Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal; Andrew Gray, chorusmaster)
Christmas carols and seasonal symphonic works

Feb 2, 5, 9, 13, 15, 17 & 22
London, UK
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (debut)
(With Aigul Akhmetshina: Rosina; Andrzej Filonczyk: Figaro; Lawrence Brownlee/Konu Kim: Count Almaviva; Bryn Terfel: Don Basilio; Fabio Capitanucci: Doctor Bartolo; Ailish Tynan: Berta; Josef Jeongmeen Ahn: Fiorello; Royal Opera Chorus; Orchestra of the Royal Opera House)
ROSSINI: Il barbiere di Siviglia

Feb 23
London, UK
London Symphony Orchestra
Sofia GUBAIDULINA: Fairytale Poem
STRAVINSKY: The Firebird (original version)
SHOSTAKOVICH: First Violin Concerto (with Vilde Frang, violin)

March 6 & 8: U.S. tour with Montreal Symphony Orchestra
     March 6: Washington, DC (Kennedy Center)
     March 8: New York, NY (Carnegie Hall)
Dorothy CHANG: Precipice
BARTÓK: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Yefim Bronfman, piano)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 5

March 9
Montreal, Canada
Montreal Symphony Orchestra
Dorothy CHANG: Precipice
BARTÓK: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Yefim Bronfman, piano)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 5

March 22–24
Munich, Germany
Munich Philharmonic
Sofia GUBAIDULINA: Fairytale Poem
RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Kyohei Sorita, piano)
R. STRAUSS: Don Quixote (with Jano Lisboa, viola; Michael Hell, cello)

March 28 & 30
Montreal, Canada
Montreal Symphony Orchestra
R. STRAUSS: Vier letzte lieder (with Sonya Yoncheva, soprano)
R. STRAUSS: Ein Heldenleben

April 6–8
Cleveland, OH
Cleveland Orchestra
BERNSTEIN: Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety” (with Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 5

April 13, 15 & 16
Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles Philharmonic
STILL: Darker America
WAGNER: Wesendonck Lieder (with Dorothea Röschmann, soprano)
BRAHMS: Symphony No. 1

April 21 & 22
San Diego, CA
San Diego Symphony
DEBUSSY: Prélude à L’après-midi d’un faune (with Hera Hyesang Park, soprano)
DEBUSSY: Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra (with Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano)
MAHLER: Symphony No. 4

April 26 & 27
Montreal, Canada
Montreal Symphony Orchestra
R. STRAUSS: Don Quixote (with Alisa Weilerstein, cello)
Ana SOKOLOVIC: Melita (world premiere of OSM commission)
ESTÉVEZ: Cantata criolla (with Aquiles Machado, tenor; Gustavo Castillo, baritone; OSM Chorus; Andrew Megill, chorusmaster)

May 11–13
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Symphony
STILL: Darker America
BRAHMS: Violin Concerto (with Hilary Hahn, violin)
R. STRAUSS: Ein Heldenleben

May 20 & 21
San Diego, CA
San Diego Symphony
BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 2 (with Inon Barnatan, piano)
Gity RAZAZ: untitled new work (world premiere of SDS commission)
DVORÁK: Symphony No. 7

May 26 & 27
San Diego, CA
San Diego Symphony
FAURÉ: Suite from Pélleas et Mélisande
DUKAS: La Péri, Poème dansé
CASTELLANOS: Santa Cruz de Pacairigua
ESTÉVEZ: Cantata criolla (with San Diego Master Chorale)

May 31; June 2 & 3
Montreal, Canada
Montreal Symphony Orchestra
MAHLER: Symphony No. 3 (with Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano; OSM Chorus; Andrew Megill, chorusmaster; OSM Children’s choir)

# # #

© 21C Media Group, August 2022

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