Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare's profound musicianship, technical brilliance and charismatic presence on the podium has elevated him as one of the most sought after young conductors, working regularly with the world's leading orchestras. The 2014-15 season saw his acclaimed debut with the Wiener Philharmoniker at the Musikverein, and invitations to the London Symphony Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic. This was followed by his debut with the Chicago Symphony at the Ravinia Festival. In September 2014, he was announced as Chief Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra in Northern Ireland and their partnership is now recognised as one of the most dynamic in the United Kingdom. Highlights with the UO have included his debut at the BBC Proms in August 2016 and a successful Beethoven and Tchaikovsky cycle with many of the concerts broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Notable invitations during the 2015-16 season included the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, NDR Sinfonieochester Hamburg, Czech Philharmonic, Hessischer Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester and the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Southbank Centre, plus return visits to the Rotterdam Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Following his opera debut conducting Madame Butterfly at Royal Swedish Opera in January 2015, he will return during the 16-17 season to conduct La Boheme. Other highlights of the current season include debuts with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and NHK Symphony Orchestra. He will also make two appearances at the Concertgebouw Hall in Amsterdam with the Rotterdam and Netherland Radio Philharmonic orchestras and will return to the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Southbank Centre with violinist, Frank Peter Zimmerman, and the Munich Philharmonic.
Soloists with whom he has enjoyed collaborations include Daniil Trifonov, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Nikolai Lugansky, Alisa Weilerstein, Nikolaj Znaider, Piotr Anderszewski, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Sergey Khachatryan, Jonathan Biss and Alexander Melnikov.
In May 2012, Payare was awarded first prize at the Malko International Conducting Competition, and in July 2012, he was personally invited by his mentor, the late Lorin Maazel, to conduct at his Castleton Festival in Virginia. This led to a close association and, in July 2015, he was honoured to accept the position of Principal Conductor of the Castleton Festival. In the summer of 2015, he conducted performances of Gounod 'Romeo and Juliette’ and a performance of Beethoven Symphony No 9 in memory of Lorin Maazel.
Born in 1980 and a graduate of the celebrated El Sistema in Venezuela, Payare 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. Having also served as Principal Horn of the Simon Bolivar Orchestra, he took part in many prestigious tours and recordings with conductors including Giuseppe Sinopoli, Claudio Abbado, Sir Simon Rattle and Lorin Maazel.