A South American conductor has been appointed to lead the Ulster Orchestra.
Rafael Payare, 33, from Venezuela, has been announced as the new chief conductor, and will take over in September when New Yorker JoAnn Falletta’s three-year contract ends.
The 33-year-old was described in the orchestra’s promotional release as “one of the world’s most exciting emerging conductors”.
In a statement unveiling the move, he said: “From the moment I first conducted the Ulster Orchestra in October, the players made a great impression on me.
“The chemistry was immediate and a very special bond was formed. I am really looking forward to embarking on the wonderful journey that is about to start and I am thrilled to share and be part of the Orchestra’s future.”
Orchestra CEO Dr Rosa Solinas said: “We think his fresh approach to music-making – not only in the concert hall but throughout the community – is great news for Belfast and for the whole of Northern Ireland.”
A former member of the Simón Bolívar orchestra, he will arrive as the orchestra prepares to bring a musical tutelage programme called El Sistema to the Province.
It is a scheme which began in the slums of Venezuela and involves musicians going into schools with the aim of teaching music and getting children to create their own orchestras.
It is expected to start in January 2015 at the earliest.