Vasily Eduardovich Petrenko (Russian: Васи́лий Эдуа́рдович Петре́нко; born 7 July 1976, Leningrad, USSR) is a Russian conductor. He is currently chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Petrenko attended the Capella Boys Music School and the St Petersburg Conservatoire. Petrenko studied conducting principally under Ravil Martynov, also learning from Mariss Jansons, Yuri Temirkanov and Esa-Pekka Salonen. He was resident conductor at the St. Petersburg Opera and Ballet Theatre from 1994 to 1997. He has served as chief conductor of the State Academy of St Petersburg since 1994. In 2002 he won the first prize of the Cadaqués Orchestra International Conducting Competition.
Petrenko made his conducting debut with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO) in November 2004. After this appearance, in July 2005, he was named the RLPO's principal conductor, the youngest-ever conductor in the post, effective with the 2006–2007 season for an initial contract of 3 years. Since taking up the post, the orchestra's financial situation and attendance have improved. He has also received critical praise for revitalising the orchestra, in Russian repertoire (especially Shostakovich) as well as standard repertoire such as Brahms, and in English music. In May 2007, the RLPO announced that Petrenko had extended his contract with the orchestra to 2012. In September 2009, the orchestra announced a further extension of his contract to 2015, with a change of Petrenko's title to Chief Conductor. In March 2013, the RLPO announced the conversion of Petrenko's contract into an extended open-ended agreement with no specific scheduled time of conclusion, and where Petrenko is to give an advance notice of 3 years of when he wishes to conclude his tenure. His first conducting appearance at The Proms was with the RLPO in August 2008. Petrenko and the RLPO have recorded several compact discs for Naxos. Petrenko's recording of Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony won the Gramophone orchestral recording of the year in 2009.
In April 2007, Petrenko was one of eight conductors of British orchestras to endorse the 10-year classical music outreach manifesto, "Building on Excellence: Orchestras for the 21st Century", to increase the presence of classical music in the UK, including giving free entry to all British schoolchildren to a classical music concert. From December 2008 to 2013 Petrenko served as Principal Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, conducting his first concert with them at the 2009 BBC Proms.
Petrenko first conducted the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra in December 2009. In February 2011, the Oslo Philharmonic announced the appointment of Petrenko as its next chief conductor, as of the 2013-2014 season, with an initial contract of 4 years. His Oslo contract calls for 7 weeks of appearances in his first seasons and 10 weeks of appearances in subsequent seasons.
In August 2013, comments attributed to Petrenko in a Norwegian newspaper that appeared to denigrate female conductors caused controversy, including calls for his resignation from the RLPO. Petrenko subsequently apologised for how his remarks were construed, and stated that his comments were in specific reference to the situation for conductors in Russia, rather than female conductors in general. He also indicated that part of the controversy was due to the fact that the interview was conducted in English, rather than Norwegian. Petrenko also subsequently stated publicly:
- "I'd encourage any girl to study conducting. How successful they turn out to be depends on their talent and their work, definitely not their gender."
In November 2015, Petrenko's Oslo contract was extended through 2020.
Petrenko lives on the Wirral Peninsula with his wife Evgenia Chernysheva-Petrenko, who is herself a conductor, and their two children Alexander (Sasha) and Anya. He is a football aficionado and follower of the club Liverpool F.C. In March 2009, Petrenko was awarded an honorary professorship and Doctor of Letters degree from Liverpool Hope University. In April 2009, Petrenko was made an 'Honorary Scouser' by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool. In November 2016, the city of Liverpool made Petrenko a new Citizen of Honour.
- Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances/the Isle of the Dead/the Rock (2011)
- Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2, Dances from Aleko (2012)
- Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 3, Caprice Bohemien, Vocalise. (2012)
- Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 1, Prince Rostislav (2013)
Deutsche Grammophon (DG)
- Jennifer Higdon, Tchaikovsky: Violin Concertos; Hilary Hahn, violin (2010)
- Tchaikovsky: Manfred Symphony / The Voyevoda (2008)
- Shostakovich: Symphony No. 11 (2009)
- Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 9 (2009)
- Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 (2010)
- Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8 (2010)
- Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 12 (2011)
- Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3 (2011)
- Shostakovich: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 15 (2012)
- Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7 (2013)
- Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4 (2013)
- Shostakovich: Symphony No. 14 (2014)
- Shostakovich: Symphony No. 13 (2014)
- Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 1–4, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini; Simon Trpčeski, pianist (2010, 2011)