Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sergio Mims: Chicago Tribune: Rafael Payare brings energy and purpose to his downtown CSO podium debut

Rafael Payare and Sergio A. Mims

Rafael Payare conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Thursday. (Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune)

Sergio A. Mims writes:

Just to let you know that John von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune gave a rave review of Rafael Paraye concerts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra last week. And I could not agree more. It was a stunning concert. Payare is definitely on the path on the verge of a major conducting career

Also here is a photo of me and Payare taken yesterday between rehearsals.

 Contact Reporter Chicago Tribune

The musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra are back in harness this weekend at Symphony Center after a long holiday hiatus. Their collective gratitude to be making music again translated into playing of robust vitality at Thursday night’s first subscription concert of the season, if not the gleaming tonal finish and exacting precision this great symphonic ensemble produces at its very best.

Different sorts of corporate virtuosity were on display throughout the evening, and the man whose job it was to make them fit together convincingly was the up-and-coming Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare, who was making his subscription series debut following his first appearance with the orchestra in 2015 at Ravinia.

Payare, who turns 38 this year, is another of the gifted alumni of the El Sistema music education program that helped bring another podium dervish, conductor Gustavo Dudamel, to world attention. Whether Payare (who is married to American cellist Alisa Weilerstein) attains similar international staying power remains to be seen, of course, although reports from Europe, where he has settled into a reportedly happy collaboration as music director of the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and has guest conducted the Vienna Philharmonic, speak well for his chances.

The CSO artistic administration allotted the guest conductor only two concerts, alternating his program with more lucrative, orchestra-accompanied screenings of “Singin’ in the Rain.” Payare appeared determined to make the most of his relatively limited podium time, applying himself with serious attention to musical values that belied the occasional excesses of his animated podium manner.

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