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.”