Vasily Petrenko was born in St Petersburg 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 Ilya Musin, Mariss Jansons, Yuri Temirkanov and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Between 1994 and 1997, Petrenko was Resident Conductor at the St Petersburg State Opera and Ballet Theatre in the Mussorgsky Memorial Theatre.
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 State Academy Orchestra of St Petersburg from 2004 to 2007.
During recent seasons Petrenko has conducted many key orchestras in Russia including the St Petersburg Philharmonic and the Moscow Philharmonic. He commenced his position as Principal Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in September 2006 - the youngest person and the first Russian to have held this appointment - and six months into his first season this contract was extended to 2012. Following his début with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, he has been appointed their Principal Conductor to work with the orchestra each season.
Petrenko is equally at home in symphonic and operatic repertoire. In the 2007/08 season, he made his début with the London Symphony Orchestra, his BBC Proms début with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and toured with the European Union Youth Orchestra. Highlights of the 2008/09 season and beyond include débuts with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Iceland Symphony, Russian National Orchestra, NHK Symphony Tokyo, Accademia di Santa Cecilia and Budapest Festival Orchestra.
Following his US début, Petrenko will make his débuts with the Dallas, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Honolulu and St Louis Symphony Orchestras in 2008/09, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony and Atlanta Symphony in 2009/10, and he has been invited to the Philadelphia Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra Washington for 2010/11. With over thirty operas in his repertoire, he has conducted three productions in recent seasons at the Netherlands Reisopera (Puccini's Le Villi and Messa da Gloria, I due Foscari and Boris Godounov) and in March 2004 he made a highly successful début at the Hamburg State Opera conducting Tchaikovsky's Pique Dame. Future plans include his débuts at Glyndebourne Festival Opera (Macbeth), and the Opera de Paris (Eugene Onegin).
Recordings with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra include a rare double bill of Fleishman's Rothschild's Violin and Shostakovich's The Gamblers, and a disc of suites from Tchaikovsky's ballets. Due for release shortly is his début recording for Naxos (Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony), and in summer 2008 he records with Naxos his first disc in a Shostakovich symphony project. In October 2007 Vasily Petrenko was named Young Artist of the Year at the annual Gramophone Awards.
A selection of M&V articles about Vasily Petrenko
CD Spotlight. Elusive and Disguised - Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony impresses Gerald Fenech. 'A strong competitor for the disc of the year ...'
CD Spotlight. A Manipulating Baton - Rachmaninov orchestral music, heard by Ron Bierman. 'Vasily Petrenko gives us an extreme interpretation ...'
Ensemble. Still Radical - Stravinsky's 'The Rite of Spring', heard by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. Natural Affinity - Klaggerud, Petrenko and the Philharmonia, heard by Bill Newman
CD Spotlight. A Towering Rage - Shostakovich's Symphony No 11, heard by Robert Anderson. '... total conviction.'
CD Spotlight. Somewhat Lacklustre - Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, heard by Howard Smith. '... a tumultuous, dynamic conclusion.'
CD Spotlight. Quite Orgiastic - Petrenko conducts Shostakovich, recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... very much on the ball ...'
Ensemble. Wilfully Distorted - Petrenko conducts the RLPO, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Great Poise - Petrenko conducts Shostakovich symphonies, recommended by Paul Sarcich. '... care and thoughtfulness ...'
Ensemble. Inner Detail - Beethoven and Tchaikovsky from Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, enjoyed by Mike Wheeler