Vasily Petrenko
Photograph: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) appoints Vasily Petrenko as its new Music Director to lead the Orchestra into its next artistic chapter, strengthening its position as one of the world’s great orchestras in London, across the UK and internationally.

Vasily Petrenko’s 2021 arrival will launch the RPO’s ambitious plans for its 75th Anniversary Season.

Expansive role of Music Director recognises the artistic leadership he will bring to the Orchestra, both on and off the podium and within the communities the RPO serves.

Vasily Petrenko is set to become Music Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO). The 42-year-old Russian conductor will commence his tenure at the beginning of the 2021–22 Season, initially for five years. His appointment stands as a major landmark in the Orchestra’s history, signalling its determination to broaden the audience for orchestral music while enhancing its reputation as one of the world’s most versatile ensembles.

The maestro will become the RPO’s Music Director Designate in August 2020, after he leaves his current role as Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.

He will conclude his term as Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO) in July 2021, closing a fifteen-year period during which he has drawn critical acclaim, global recognition and significantly increased audiences across the region.

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 players was confirmed in April last year when he returned to conduct Verdi’s Requiem at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall.

Across the forthcoming two Seasons, he will conduct the RPO for performances in London and will lead the Orchestra on international tours to Europe and Asia.

In August 2021, Vasily Petrenko’s first concert as Music Director will mark the launch of the RPO’s 75th Anniversary Season. He will conduct an expanded number of the Orchestra’s concerts in London at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall and will play a central role strengthening the RPO’s Residencies in towns and cities across England. As one of the UK’s foremost cultural ambassadors, the RPO, under Petrenko’s direction, will strengthen its international touring programmes across the USA, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, with tours already scheduled as far ahead as 2022. Although Petrenko’s artistic plans for future Seasons are still taking shape, supporters of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra can expect bold projects and adventurous repertoire from its new Music Director.

Vasily Petrenko comments: “I am delighted to become Music Director at this stage in the RPO’s history. This Orchestra, with its outstanding musicians and clear vision from management, has enormous potential. The RPO has a very modern approach and a youthful energy which underpin its music-making. We want to attract new and, especially, young audiences, embrace digital technologies and structure exciting seasons in London which can then be toured nationally and internationally. This will be a new chapter for an orchestra with a glorious past and high ambitions for the future; my goal is to see this realised on the world’s leading concert platforms.”

James Williams, Managing Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra adds: “On behalf of the players and the team at the RPO, I warmly welcome Vasily Petrenko’s decision to make a long-term commitment to musical life in London and the UK. His title of Music Director is significant; it recognises the artistic leadership that Vasily will bring to the Orchestra, both on and off the podium and within the communities it serves, drawing on his passion for music education and widening access to orchestral music to make it truly inclusive.”

Adam Wright, Chairman and sub-principal trumpet of the RPO says: “There is a unique musical synergy between Vasily and the RPO’s musicians which naturally builds upon the legacy of all the great conductors who have previously worked with the Orchestra. To have someone leading the organisation who embodies such a breadth of repertoire and who is so committed to building audiences, widening access and placing orchestral music at the heart of the community, is essential to the RPO’s identity and future.”

Paying tribute to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko says: “It has been an honour and a great joy to spend so many rewarding years with the RLPO. They will always have a special place in my heart and we will continue to make music together. I look forward to developing special projects with the RPO, forging new partnerships with contemporary arts and technology companies, expanding the RPO’s relationship with the Royal College of Music and building bridges between the worlds of virtual reality, social media and orchestral music. These are just a few of our plans. The artistic quality – the most important aspect – is already there. I can’t wait to see where our work together will lead."


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