When Rafael Payare first performed with the San Diego Symphony (sandiegosymphony.org) in January 2018, the Venezuelan conductor felt an immediate chemistry. “There were no boundaries,” he remembers. “We were truly connected and working together to achieve the highest-possible artistic level.” Fast-forward to today, when the rock star maestro is preparing to make his debut as the organization’s 13th music director. His opening weekend concert is set for Oct. 5 to 6, showcasing Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5—which includes a beautiful love letter to the composer’s new wife and was written after he suffered a sudden stroke that almost killed him—complemented by Mason Bates’ inventive “Alternative Energy,” rife with techno sounds. Also on the lineup for the 2019-20 season: A mix of music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Dmitri Shostakovich, plus a January festival celebrating Beethoven’s 250th anniversary. “I think of this musical journey as a long train ride, where the audience can stop off at stations before the final destination and discover many different works,” says Payare. And what is he most looking forward to? “A special production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream featuring Felix Mendelssohn’s delightful incidental music. The orchestra will be joined on stage by actors, the San Diego Master Chorale and special video projections, all directed by Gerard McBurney.” Batons up!
Photography by: San Diego Symphony