Breaking: Montreal names Venezuelan music director

Breaking: Montreal names Venezuelan music director


norman lebrecht

January 07, 2021

The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal has just picked an outlier to succeed Kent Nagano.

The Venezuelan Rafael Payare will become its music director in September 2022 for an initial five years.

Nagano held the post for 14 years.

Payare, 40, is married to the American cellist Alisa Weilerstein. A product of Venezuela’s El Sistema, he is presently music director in San Diego, where he renewed recently to 2026. He was previously music director in Ulster.



  • Robert K says:

    Wow! He is terrific. Awesome news for a great band.

  • Fred says:

    Fantastic choice!

  • MusicLover says:

    Bravo!! Great news for Montréal! A fine choice and a great musician.

  • caranome says:

    Hoping to rub off the Dudamel Effect.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    You might also mention that he is presently music director of the San Diego Symphony.

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    Rafael, if you read these, congratulations! Nice to read uplifting news amid the world horrors. Good luck there!

  • MacroV says:

    I didn’t see it coming and didn’t realize that he had risen to OSM-level stature in the music biz. Apparently he has, so congratulations to him and the OSM; he just landed a great orchestra in a fantastic city.

  • Rodney says:

    A great hire, congratulations to the city of Montreal, the OSM and Rafael!

  • JussiB says:

    I guess he goes to the same barber shop as the Dude. Did any qualified white males apply for the position, just curious?

  • Karl says:

    I hope he can stand the cold. Venezuela and San Diego have probably never had snow. Unless you climb Pico Bolívar.

  • Birchley Poundbottom says:

    Wow can’t believe they nabbed Dudamel.