San Diego Symphony, led by Rafael Payare, will perform at Carnegie Hall this fall for first time in a decade

The San Diego Symphony conductor Rafael Payare at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park
The San Diego Symphony, led by Rafael Payare (above), are set for their first Carnegie Hall concert since 2013. “We’re very excited,” said the Venezuelan-born conductor.
(Sandy Huffaker/SDUT)

The concert in New York is a prelude to the symphony’s Nov. 4 grand re-opening concert at Jacobs Music Center’s Copley Symphony Hall, following the venue’s $125 million revitalization


Start spreading the news: The San Diego Symphony will perform this fall at Carnegie Hall.

The Oct. 13 concert will mark the orchestra’s first concert there since its Big Apple debut at the same iconic New York venue in 2013 — and only the second time in the city in the symphony’s 113-year-history.

The Carnegie Hall performance is a prelude to the orchestra’s Nov. 4 grand reopening concert here at Jacobs Music Center’s Copley Symphony Hall, following the venue’s ongoing $125 million revitalization.

The 2023/2024 Jacobs Masterworks season features world premieres, guest performances by Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Tilson Thomas, Lang Lang, and more. Here’s the exclusive full schedule

“It is very important that we go to the East Coast and people there can see us perform in person,” said Rafael Payare, the symphony’s Venezuelan-born music director.

“Carnegie Hall is such an amazing, historic venue, not only for classical music but for many other things. It’s a fantastic place to perform and a wonderful platform to showcase the San Diego Symphony, because the best orchestras in the world have played there.”

Martha Gilmer, the symphony’s game-changing CEO, assumed her position in 2014. That was just one year after the orchestra — then led by Payare’s predecessor, Jahja Ling — debuted at Carnegie Hall, followed immediately by a 10-day concert tour of China.

“People were still talking about it after I got to San Diego and I was keenly aware of how important it was,” Gilmer recalled.

“It was in October 2013 and the 10-year mark is an important milestone for this orchestra. So, this is no accident that we’re returning to Carnegie Hall this October. As part of the work Rafael and the orchestra have done, it’s important that they are heard outside of San Diego. It’s good for the orchestra to be together on other stages with other audiences; it’s an important part of their growth.”

The featured soloist for the orchestra’s Carnegie Hall debut a decade ago was piano star Lang Lang. This time around, the symphony will be joined by internationally acclaimed cellist Alisa Weilerstein. She is the wife of Payare, who has led the symphony here since the start of its 2019/2020 season.

Based in Berlin, the husband-and-wife musical team are now living in San Diego because of the coronavirus pandemic

Weilerstein will solo on Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104.

The symphony’s Carnegie Hall concert repertoire will also feature Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47, and the East Coast premiere of a new work by American Carlos Simon. The piece, as yet untitled, will also be performed here Nov. 11 at Jacobs Music Center’s Copley Symphony Hall.

“It was absolutely planned that way,” Gilmer noted. “When we commissioned Carlos, it was with the knowledge it would be for premiere performances of his new work in New York and San Diego. If you can premiere a work in multiple cities, it increases its impact.”

The symphony’s October performance at Carnegie Hall, which opened in 1891, will be Payare’s second there this year. On March 8, Payare made his conducting debut leading the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. In early December, he conducted the New York Philharmonic for the first time in his career, leading them in three concerts in David Geffen Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center.

The globe-trotting Venezuelan orchestra leader, just back from his latest European tour, is excited to soon take his first bite of the Big Apple

“The idea of this ‘encore’ concert at Carnegie Hall was floating around even before I began my first season here four years ago,” Payare recalled, speaking Monday from the San Diego home he shares with Weilerstein and their two young children.

“Then, the pandemic hit. Now, it’s the right time and the right place. We are all very excited.”

“We are proud of this orchestra,” Gilmer added.

“This is another opportunity for us to be ambassadors for the city of San Diego, much like San Diego State’s Aztecs basketball team was in the NCAA championship in Houston. Part of our mission is to attract more people to come to San Diego for cultural tourism. We really plan to shine a light on this city.”

Tickets for the San Diego Symphony’s Carnegie Hall concert, priced from $20 to $115, are available at: Tickets for all the orchestra’s 2023/2024 season concerts are available at: