Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare will replace Kent Nagano at the Montreal Symphony Orchestra

Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare has been chosen to become musical director of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM) as of the 2022-2023 season.

Pending the formal start of his five-year contract, Payare will act as the designated music director starting next September, replacing Kent Nagano, who held the position for 14 years, from 2006 to 2020.

Payare, 40, graduated from the famous musical education program "El Sistema", founded by conductor Jose Antonio Abreu, with whom the trained horn player began his studies in conducting in 2004.

The young conductor later won the international Malko competition in Denmark in 2012. He then became musical director of the Ulster Orchestra from 2014 to 2019; he has since been the Music Director of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra.

The OSM management said in a news release that Payare's appointment had been unanimously recommended by the selection committee for the next OSM musical director, made up of 11 members, including three musicians from the orchestra.

McGill University principal and vice-chancellor Suzanne Fortier chaired the committee.

"Today's announcement is the result of rigorous efforts that began in 2017 to choose a successor for Kent Nagano, who did not wish to renew his contract at the end of the 2019-2020 season," she said.

"Based on solid selection criteria, our search was global in scope. It was an honour for me to chair this committee and I’m very happy with the result. We were able to identify a candidate of the highest quality, Rafael Payare, whom we unanimously recommended to the OSM’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors.”

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 7, 2020. 

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