The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) today announces that Vasily Petrenko is extending his contract as Music Director through to 2030. Petrenko will lead the RPO into its next artistic chapter, further strengthening its position as one of the world’s great orchestras in London, across the UK and internationally.

The role of Music Director at the RPO is an expansive one that covers all aspects of the orchestra’s artistic life and wellbeing. The contract extension recognises the profound artistic leadership that Vasily Petrenko has brought to the Orchestra since he started his tenure in August 2021. Over the past few years, with Petrenko at the helm, the RPO has been lauded for its London concert seasons, celebrated a landmark 75th anniversary year, embraced an ambassadorial role for UK Arts on the world stage and implemented a wide-ranging and enriching programme of community and education activity. This ambitious artistic output has been delivered with conviction against the most challenging context – enduring a global pandemic, innovating through a cost of living crisis and growing the audience for orchestral music at a time when the future of live music was in the balance.

The extension of Vasily Petrenko’s contract until 2030 follows a series of recent strategic additions to the RPO’s leadership team – the appointment of Sarah Bardwell as the RPO’s new Managing Director, Joe Hisaishi’s appointment as the RPO’s Composer-in- Association and Tom Philpott taking on the role of Director of Artistic Planning & Partnerships.

Vasily Petrenko made his debut with the RPO at the Royal Albert Hall in March 2016 delivering a powerful interpretation of Mahler’s Symphony No.2 ‘Resurrection’. His rapport with the Orchestra’s musicians was confirmed a year later, when he returned to conduct Verdi’s Requiem at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. Following the announcement of his appointment as Music Director in 2018, Petrenko launched the RPO’s 75th Anniversary Season in 2021 and in addition to their regular presence at the Royal Albert Hall and Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, he has led the Orchestra on international tours to Europe, United States of America and Asia, all of which have garnered critical acclaim.

For the forthcoming 2024-5 season, Vasily Petrenko and the RPO will present ‘Lights in the Dark’, a series of concerts centred on music composed during times of resistance, courage and hope. The series features works written in the middle of worldwide conflicts as well as those written by composers who faced exile and adversity and who transformed their experience into pure life force. Masterworks including Shostakovich’s ‘Leningrad’ Symphony and Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Concerto will sit alongside lesser-known works including Piano Concerto in One Movement by Florence Price, Dorothy Howell’s Lamia, and Weill’s Four Walt Whitman Songs. For the new season, Petrenko and the RPO will be joined by soloists including; Paul Lewis, Roderick Williams OBE, Jeneba Kanneh-Mason and Bruce Liu.

Vasily Petrenko comments: “I am delighted to be extending my contract as Music Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra through to 2030. We have achieved so much in recent years but the potential exists to raise the bar even higher. The RPO, with its outstanding musicians and clear vision from management, has a very modern approach and we want to continue striking the right balance between delivering benchmark performances with being creative, original and attracting new audiences to the orchestral world. Together we have grown artistically during the most challenging circumstances of recent years, and now is the time for our shared vision for excellence to be realised in the world’s leading concert halls.”

James Williams, Managing Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra adds: “Everyone at the RPO is delighted that Vasily is committing to the Orchestra through to  2030. In the last year, the RPO has enjoyed record attendance figures for our concerts in London and around the UK and the artistic leadership that Vasily brings to the Orchestra – both on and off the podium – will help us in our ambition to enrich lives through orchestral experiences that are uncompromising in their excellence and inclusive in their appeal.”

Vasily Petrenko is Music Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he took on in 2021, becoming Conductor Laureate of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra following his hugely acclaimed fifteen-year tenure as their Chief Conductor from 2006-2021. He is Chief Conductor of the European Union Youth Orchestra (since 2015), the Associate Conductor of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León, and has also served as Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (2013-2020) and Principal Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain (2009–2013). He stood down as Artistic Director of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia ‘Evgeny Svetlanov’ in 2021, having been their Principal Guest Conductor from 2016 and Artistic Director from 2020.

Born in 1976, Petrenko was educated at the St Petersburg Capella Boys Music School – Russia’s oldest music school – and the St Petersburg Conservatoire where he participated in masterclasses with such luminary figures as Ilya Musin, Mariss Jansons and Yuri Temirkanov. He began his career as Resident Conductor (1994–1997) of St Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Theatre. He has worked with many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Leipzig Gewandhaus, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Rome), St Petersburg Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Czech Philharmonic, NHK Symphony and Sydney Symphony Orchestras, and in North America has lead the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, and the San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Montreal Symphony Orchestras. He has appeared at the Edinburgh Festival, Grafenegg Festival and made frequent appearances at the BBC Proms. Equally at home in the opera house, and with over thirty operas in his repertoire, Vasily Petrenko has conducted widely on the operatic stage, including at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Opéra National de Paris, Opernhaus Zürich, the Bayerische Staatsoper, and the Metropolitan Opera, New York.

Photo Credit: Asia de Lorenzi