Rafael gives Ulster Orchestra the perfect 50th birthday gift
The Ulster Orchestra has been gifted a 50th birthday present to remember, after chief conductor Rafael Payare agreed to a two-year extension to his contract and also took up the new position of music director.
The retention of Payare is a major coup because the young Venezuelan is in great demand worldwide and is tipped to become one of the top international conductors of the future.
Richard Wigley, managing director of the Ulster Orchestra, said: "In recognition of Rafael's rapport with the players, the tremendous reception from the Northern Ireland people and his incredible impact during concerts, we have given him the new title of music director.
"We are enthusiastic for what the future holds with this brilliant conductor at the helm of our orchestra."
On Friday evening, Payare will conduct a special 50th birthday concert at the Ulster Hall, featuring guest pianist Barry Douglas, who has appeared regularly with the orchestra.
Barry will also be celebrating the 30th anniversary of his historic achievement in winning the Tchaikovsky International Competition - a victory which set him off on a stellar international career.
Payare, who was born in Venezuela in 1980, works with some of the world's leading orchestras, including the Vienna Philharmonic, the Munich Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra.