CLASS ACT ADDENDUM: Rafael Payare, David Robertson get new conducting posts

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Southern California News Group

In this week’s print column, now ONLINE, I didn’t have space to include the appointment of Rafael Payare (pictured left) as the next music director of the San Diego Symphony, effective with the 2019-2020 season. He replaces Jahja Ling, who stepped down last year after a 13-year tenure.

Payare will serve as music director-designate next season and has a four-year contract. Concurrently he will step down as music director of the Ulster Orchestra in Northern Ireland.

Payare, 37, is a graduate of Venezuela’s El Sistema program that also produced (among others) Gustavo Dudamel, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s music and artistic director. Payare is married to cellist Alisa Weilerstein — they currently live in Berlin with their young daughter.

Of note: with Payare’s appointment in San Diego and Jaime Martín being named music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the region — where Spanish-speaking people now form a plurality, if not a majority, of the population — now has at least three music directors with Spanish as their native language.


Other conductor news:
• Santa Monica native David Robertson (pictured right) has been named director of conducting studies at The Juilliard School in New York City. According to the school’s media release (LINK), “As part of his new role, Mr. Robertson will be the principal teacher for all conducting degree students at the school. He will work with three or four students per academic year and will personally audition prospective students. Mr. Robertson will teach private lessons, a regular studio class, and work with the students as they conduct the Juilliard Lab Orchestra. In addition, he will select students to accompany him and assist at major orchestral engagements on his schedule.

“Mr. Robertson,” the release continues, “will conduct one major concert annually with the Juilliard Orchestra. He is already scheduled to lead the Juilliard Orchestra at Carnegie Hall this spring on April 2, 2018, in a program of Ives, Bartók, and Dvořák.”

Robertson, outgoing music director of the St. Louis Symphony, replaces Alan Gilbert in the position once held by former Pasadena Symphony Music Director Jorge Mester and PSO Music Advisor James DePreist.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin has pushed up his start date as the Metropolitan Opera’s music director two years, to next fall. He will continue as music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Montreal’s Metropolitan Orchestra, but will relinquish his leadership duties at the Rotterdam Philharmonic. Nézet-Séguin is also cancelling several guest-conducting dates in Europe to facilitate his new Met start-up date. He will conduct three operas in the Met’s upcoming season.

(c) Copyright 2015, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

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