Rafael Payare’s prodigious musicianship, technical brilliance and charismatic presence on the podium have made him one of the world’s most sought-after conductors. Born in 1980 and a graduate of the celebrated El Sistema music education program in Venezuela, he began his formal conducting studies in 2004 with José Antonio Abreu.
Since winning the prestigious Malko International Competition for Young Conductors in Denmark in 2012, Maestro Payare’s career has advanced rapidly. Since 2015, he has served as Principal Conductor of the Castleton Festival, founded by his mentor the late Lorin Maazel. He was Chief Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra from 2014 to 2019 and in 2019, took up the position of Music Director of the San Diego Symphony.
In recent years, Rafael Payare has conducted many of the world's most prestigious symphony orchestras, in Berlin, Vienna, London, Munich, Chicago and Paris, among others. Appointed Music Director Designate of the OSM for the 2021-2022 season, he will fully assume the position of Music Director, the ninth one in the history of the Orchestra, starting in the 2022-2023 season.