Thirty-three-year-old Venezuelan conductor, Rafael Payare, is the youngest ever to conduct the Symphony Orchestra of India. He is a product of the renowned government-funded El Sistema music training programme. The artiste, who won first prize in the prestigious Malko International Competition for Young Conductors in 2012, explains why music is the elixir of his life and how teaching underprivileged children hones the musician in him
Rafael Payare gained worldwide recognition in May 2012 as the winner of the Malko International Conducting Competition in Copenhagen. Since he began his formal conducting studies in 2004 with José Antonio Abreu, Rafael has developed a flourishing career, having conducted all the major orchestras in Venezuela including the Simón Bolívar Orchestra both in Caracas and in Toronto as part of their 2009 Canadian tour. The young artiste, who will conduct the SOI for the first time, talks to SUNDAY MiD DAY about his journey:
Rafael Payare claims that he wants to offer a large variety of “so-called” Western or classical music to Indian audiences
How and when did you get interested in music?
I went to a ‘nucleo’ — a centre run by El Sistema, thanks to my brother Joel. He was a bassoon player in the orchestra of my hometown, Puerto la Cruz, and he was always listening to music in his room. One day a sound caught my attention, so I asked what it was and my brother asked me if I liked it. I said ‘yes’ and the next day he took me to the nucleo. I started receiving tuition on the French Horn and began playing in a children’s orchestra.
What do you like about music?
Music is always evolving so it is a joy to go to concert halls because one can experience something completely new even if it is a piece that is a year old or that you have heard 1,000 times before.
How did the El Sistema influence you as a teacher and a student?
The El Sistema provides music education to young people, mainly from poor socio-economic backgrounds free of cost. They provide you with everything — teachers, instruments and orchestras. I don’t have a musical background in my family and if this programme didn’t exist then maybe I wouldn’t be a musician at all. The aim of the programme is to teach people through the medium of music how to be better human beings. When you play music you have to listen and cooperate with other people playing all kinds of instruments in order to make the piece work. Can you imagine if everybody in the world could listen and work with each other to make this world better?
What do you plan to perform in India?
I just want to bring a large palette of colours of the so-called western or classical music.
When: February 10-26, 8 pm
Where: Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA, NCPA Marg, Nariman Point
Call: 22824567, 66223724
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