Photo: Mark McNulty

New Oslo Philharmonic chief conductor announced

The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra has announced that Vasily Petrenko is to lead the orchestra after Jukka-Pekka Saraste steps down.

Vasily Petrenko, currently with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, has been appointed as the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra’s new chief conductor.

Says Petrenko: ‘I was thrilled to be asked to take over as the next Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra chief conductor. Naturally, it’s still too early to go into details on our joint future, but what remains certain is that we’re already thinking ahead toward 2013, toward major anniversaries of composers such as Wagner, Verdi and Britten as well as the centennial anniversary for Djagilev and Ballets Russes’ great Paris season which brought to the world such works as Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Debussy’s Jeux.

I look forward to programming virtually everything from Johann Sebastian Bach to contemporary music, and also Nordic repertoire from such key composers as Grieg, Nielsen and Sibelius at the forefront. I have a strong affection for Scandinavian music, and see it as a natural process to explore this repertoire with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.’

Petrenko’s contract with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra extends until 2015, meaning that the conductor will lead both orchestras for at least two concert seasons.

Says Petrenko: ‘The contact with the orchestra’s audience is a vital part of my work in Liverpool and wherever I’m conducting, and will remain so also in Oslo. I feel that this close relationship with the audience is a key element of the conductor’s role if one aspires to lead a modern orchestra. Working with and developing a young audience has played a pivotal role for me in Liverpool. We’re now enjoying a good attendance of younger people, and this has been really important for me in my line of work as a conductor.’

Born and educated in St Petersburg (at the St Petersburg Capella Boys Music School and the St Petersburg Conservatoire), Vasily Petrenko was Resident Conductor at the St Petersburg State Opera and Ballet Theatre (1994-7) and Chief Conductor of the State Academy Orchestra of St Petersburg (2004-7). He is currently Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (contract extended until 2015), and Principal Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

In recent seasons, he made debuts with the London Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and Budapest Festival Orchestras, Philharmonia, Russian National Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic, and toured with the European Union Youth Orchestra. In the US he has made successful debuts with many top level orchestras, including the Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Baltimore, Cincinnati and St Louis Symphony Orchestras.

Future debuts include the Orchestre National de France, Finnish Radio Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, NHK Symphony Tokyo and Accademia di Santa Cecilia, the Sydney Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra Washington.

His wide operatic repertoire includes Macbeth (Glyndebourne Festival Opera), Eugene Onegin (Opera de Paris), Le Villi, I due Foscari and Boris Godounov (Netherlands Reisopera) and Pique Dame (Hamburg State Opera) and future plans include his debut at the Zurich Opera (Carmen).

Recordings with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic include a rare double bill of Fleishman’s Rothschild’s Violin and Shostakovich’s The Gamblers, Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, and recordings for Naxos of Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony (winner of the 2009 Gramophone Award for Best Orchestral Recording), the Liszt Piano Concertos, and the first discs of an ongoing Shostakovich cycle (Symphonies 5, 8, 9, 10 and 11). In 2007 Vasily Petrenko was named Young Artist of the Year at the annual Gramophone Awards, and in 2009 he was awarded Honorary Doctorates by both the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Hope University, in recognition of the immense impact he has had on the city’s cultural scene.

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