Vasily Petrenko was born in 1976 and started his music education at the St Petersburg Capella Boys Music School – the oldest music school in Russia. He then studied at the St Petersburg Conservatoire and has also participated in masterclasses with such major figures as Ilya Musin, Mariss Jansons, and Yuri Temirkanov. Following considerable success in a number of international conducting competitions including the Fourth Prokofiev Conducting Competition in St Petersburg (2003), First Prize in the Shostakovich Choral Conducting Competition in St Petersburg (1997) and First Prize in the Sixth Cadaques International Conducting Competition in Spain, he was appointed Chief Conductor of the St Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra from 2004 to 2007.
In 2021, Petrenko will take up the position of Music Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. Currently, Petrenko holds the position of Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (appointed in 2013/14), Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (a position he adopted in 2009 as a continuation of his period as Principal Conductor which commenced in 2006), Chief Conductor of the European Union Youth Orchestra (since 2015) and Principal Guest Conductor of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia (since 2016). Petrenko has also served as Principal Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain from 2009-2013, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Mikhailovsky Theatre (formerly the Mussorgsky Memorial Theatre of the St Petersburg State Opera and Ballet) where he began his career as Resident Conductor from 1994 to 1997.
In September 2017, Vasily Petrenko was honoured with the Artist of the Year award at the prestigious annual Gramophone Awards, one decade on from receiving their Young Artist of the Year award in October 2007. In 2010 he won the Male Artist of the Year at the Classical Brit Awards. He is only the second person to have been awarded Honorary Doctorates by both the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Hope University (in 2009), and an Honorary Fellowship of the Liverpool John Moores University (in 2012), and Honorary Doctorate from the University of York (2018), awards which recognise the immense impact he has had on the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the wider cultural scene.
Petrenko has worked with many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia, Russian National Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Czech Philharmonic, Finnish Radio Symphony, NHK Symphony Tokyo and Sydney Symphony. He has appeared at the Edinburgh Festival with the Oslo Philharmonic, and the Grafenegg Festival with the European Union Youth Orchestra and the State Academic Symphony of Russia, and made frequent appearances at the BBC Proms. Recent years have seen a series of highly successful North American debuts, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Montreal, Pittsburgh symphony orchestras, and appearances at the Aspen, Blossom and Ravinia summer festivals.
Highlights of the 2018/19 season and beyond include his debut with the Metropolitan Opera of New York with a production of Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame, debut with the Seattle Symphony orchestra, and appearing at the newly-created Tsinandali Festival with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he frequently collaborates. Guest appearances include performances with the orchestra of the Bayerische Staatsoper, a UK tour with the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia, and returns to the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and Minnesota orchestras.
Equally at home in the opera house, and with over thirty operas in his repertoire, Petrenko made his debuts in 2010 at Glyndebourne Festival Opera (Macbeth) and the Opera de Paris (Eugene Onegin), and in recent seasons has also
conducted Pique Dame at Hamburg State Opera, Boris Godunov at the National Reisopera, Eugene Onegin, La Bohème and Carmen at the Mikhailovsky Theatre and Carmen at the Zurich Opera, Tosca and Parsifal with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and Der fliegende Holländer with the Oslo Philharmonic and at the Mikhailovsky Theatre. 2016 saw a highly successful debut at the Bayerische Staatsoper with Boris Godunov, and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk with Zurich Opera, and future plans include concert performances of Falstaff with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.
Petrenko has established a strongly defined profile as a recording artist. His Shostakovich symphony cycle for Naxos Records with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (collated as a boxset in the autumn of 2015) has garnered worldwide acclaim, and his has been documented in award-winning surveys of Rachmaninov’s symphonies, orchestral works and complete piano concertos with Simon Trpceski, Elgar’s symphonies and orchestra music, Tchaikovsky’s complete symphonies, piano concertos and Manfred (winner of the 2009 Gramophone Award for Best Orchestral Recording), and works by Offenbach, Higdon and Tavener. With the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra he has released the Shostakovich cello concertos with Truls Mork (Ondine), the Szymanowski violin concertos with Baiba Skride (Orfeo), and Prokofiev’s complete Romeo and Juliet ballet, and the continuation of cycles of Scriabin’s symphonies and Strauss’ tone poems. 2018 will see the release of works by Stravinsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Respighi and Britten with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and recording Prokofiev’s 5th and 6th symphonies with the Oslo Philharmonic orchestra.