Talk about love at first sight! Talk about crescendo! The buzz started the instant the Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare first set foot on the podium of the San Diego Symphony in 2018. The next year, when he came aboard as music director, the buzz just grew louder. Now, as he prepares to inaugurate the orchestra’s brand-new, $100-million concert arena on the Embarcadero, it’s positively deafening. Drone shots of the shell-shaped architecture are as stunning as the advance reports on the electronically enhanced acoustics. The opening-night extravaganza kicks off with the world premiere of Soundcheck in C Major, commissioned from Mason Bates, a Grammy Award-winning composer and renowned DJ who certainly has a way with titles. The ensuing potpourri includes the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, op. 33, showcasing Alisa Weilerstein, a MacArthur Fellow and the maestro’s wife; Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, with the dependably thrilling Jean-Yves Thibaudet at the keyboard; operatic vocals by the bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green; and Stravinsky’s grandiloquent Firebird Suite as the chaser. —M.G.
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