Rafael Payare


Rafael Payare is Chief Conductor-designate of the Ulster Orchestra and will take up the position in September 2014.

33 year old Payare is emerging as one of the most exciting conductors of his generation. Since winning the prestigious Malko Conducting Competition in 2012, he has worked with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Gothenburg Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony and the Los Angeles and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic orchestras. Future plans include debuts with the London Symphony, Munchner Philharmoniker, City of Birmingham Symphony and the Oslo Philharmonic. He will also conduct part of Krzysztof Penderecki’s 80th Birthday celebrations in Warsaw.

Since he began his formal conducting studies in 2004 with José Antonio Abreu, he has conducted all the major orchestras in Venezuela including the Simón Bolívar Orchestra, both in Caracas and in Toronto as part of their 2009 Canadian tour.

As an assistant conductor, he has worked under Gustavo Dudamel, most recently for his staged production of Marriage of Figaro with the LA Philharmonic, and served as assistant conductor to Claudio Abbado for his performance of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony with the Simón Bolívar Orchestra. In September 2012, Daniel Barenboim personally invited Rafael to assist for his production of Siegfried at the Berlin Staatsoper.

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    Symphony No.4, Movement 1


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Concert: 4 October 2013

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Music Hall Cincinnati

Making his debut with the CSO was guest conductor Rafael Payare. Just 33, Payare led with total assurance...Payare who led the Sibelius Symphony from memory, had both the orchestra and the audience in his corner all evening. Winner of the 2012 Malko International Conducting Competition in Copenhagen, he conducts with sweeping gestures and a precise and expressive left hand. The CSO musicians responded to him naturally and gave him their finest playing. The audience seemed rapt and during silences in the music you could hear a pin drop in the hall. Mary Ellyn Hutton, Cincinnati.com


Symphony No.5: 14 July 2013

Castleton Festival Orchestra, Castleton Festival

Rafael Payare conducted a stormy version of Mahler's 70-minute Fifth Symphony...The Castleton Festival Orchestra, conducted by rising star Payare, was unbelievable in the Mahler...Payare led them in probing the mournful landscapes of the funeral march..the rondo finale transfixed the audience with its breathtaking virtuosity in conveying the music's ambiguous sense of triumph and equally fervent proclamation of joyous abandon. Cecelia Porter, The Washington Post
The young conductor was just unbelievable...the wild-haired, expressive and intensely, joyously focused 33-year-old Venezuelan horn player turned conductor Rafael Payare...It was so evident that Payare loved the music, and he conveyed that so well to the orchestra - he turned on those young musicians, and they gave one of the best performances they've ever given...Payare flowed across the orchestra. When the violins lifted their instruments, he lifted their instruments. Payare conducted without a score, much like his infinitely more seasoned sponsor Maazel does, and returned four times to stand with the orchestra for an also-standing crowd. Roger Piantadosi, Rappahanock News


Concert: 22 March 2013

Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall

Lauréat du concours de direction Nicolai Malko de Copenhague, le jeune homme témoigne d’une assurance et d’une technique de direction infaillibles. Il cerne parfaitement les caractéristiques de l’ouverture de Leonore n°1 de Beethoven avant d’emporter l’adhésion du public dans la Symphonie n°7. En dépit de l’effectif orchestral sollicité en tutti, le chef conserve un élan interprétatif et une incroyable clarté dans la mise en avant des thèmes de l’œuvre. Peu de chefs peuvent proposer une telle assurance et une telle maîtrise. Agé de 32 ans, Payare est certainement promis  à un bel avenir, il est bien plus qu’un clone de Dudamel, et il possède déjà : la fraîcheur de l’inspiration et la rigueur de la direction. Pierre-Jean Trivot, Resmusica

Concert: 23 May 2012

Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Copenhagen

With his thick curls, instant charisma and arresting smile – not to mention the fact that he’s worked with Claudio Abbado and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra – comparisons with Gustavo Dudamel are inevitable.
But Venezuelan Rafael Payare, who was crowned the winner of Copenhagen’s renowned Malko Competition this month, has his own style, more carefully measured and exacting than his wildly popular countryman.

Taking to the stage at the Malko finals on 12 May, the 32-year-old led the Danish National Symphony Orchestra with passion and flair.

Conducting the prelude to the second act of Carl Nielsen's opera Saul and David and the first movement of Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony, it was clear he also captivated the huge audience that had packed into the stunning concert hall of the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR).
Clare Wiley, International Arts Manager