Rafael Payare conducts the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal. Courtesy OSM

“Conductor Rafael Payare was hired Thursday as music director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal starting with the 2022-23 season,” writes Ronald Blum in Friday’s (1/8) Associated Press. “A Venezuelan who turns 41 on Feb. 23, Payare follows the lengthy tenures of Montreal music directors Kent Nagano (2006-20) and Charles Dutoit (1977–02)…. Payare has been music director of the San Diego Symphony since 2019-20 and has a contract there through 2025-26. Payare first conducted the Montreal orchestra in September 2018 [and] returned to the orchestra in July 2019…. He was in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he served as music director of the Ulster Orchestra from 2014-19, when Montreal orchestra CEO Madeleine Careau and another official visited him in January 2019 as part of the recruiting process. Trained as a French horn player, Payare is a graduate of the El Sistema music program in Venezuela…. He is married to cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and they frequently perform together. Payare, who lives in San Diego and Berlin … will serve as music director designate in 2021-22 with a five-to-six week commitment, then spend 14 to 16 weeks annually as music director, in addition to 10 weeks a season in San Diego.”