Among the welcome changes Rafael Payare has brought to the San Diego Symphony is a revitalization of the orchestra’s repertory. Major works the orchestra had not previously performed—and not just new compositions—are now center stage. In January, 2019, when Payare was still Music Director Designate, he conducted the orchestra and cellist Alisa Weilerstein in Benjamin…

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In 2018, the key players of San Diego’s classical music scene struck gold by collaborating with each other. Enlisting some 10 musical organizations in its month-long “It’s About Time Time” festival in January, the San Diego Symphony set a high bar of cooperation for the coming year, but other organizations readily took up the challenge with rewarding results.

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Although most of the Christmas music performed during the holiday season was originally intended for church services, in these secular times music lovers tend to hear this repertory in concert settings. A felicitous compromise is the Service of Lessons and Carols, an English invention that simply alternates seasonal music and Biblical readings like a very…

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