He then studied at the St Petersburg Conservatoire and has also participated in masterclasses with such major figures as Ilya Musin, Mariss Jansons, Yuri Temirkanov and Esa-Pekka Salonen. 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 St Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra from 2004 to 2007.
The 2013/14 season marks his first as Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, alongside which he maintains his positions as Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (a position he adopted in 2009 as a continuation of his period as Principal Conductor which commenced in 2006), Principal Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Mikhailovsky Theatre (formerly the Mussorgsky Memorial Theatre of the St Petersburg State Opera and Ballet) where he began his career as Resident Conductor from 1994 to 1997.
In recent seasons, Petrenko has made numerous critically acclaimed debuts with major orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, Russian National Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Czech Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, NHK Symphony Tokyo, Sydney Symphony and Accademia di Santa Cecilia.
He has made frequent appearances at the BBC Proms, and toured with the European Union Youth Orchestra. Recent years have seen a series of highly successful North American debuts, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and St Louis Symphony Orchestras. Highlights of the 2013/14 season and beyond include return visits to the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester Berlin, London Philharmonic and Philharmonia, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Finnish Radio Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony, tour periods in Europe and Asia with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic and Russian National Orchestra, and his debut performances with the WDR Sinfonieorchester Cologne.
Equally at home in opera house, and with over thirty operas in his repertoire, Petrenko made his debuts in 2010 at Glyndebourne Festival Opera (Macbeth) and the Opera de Paris (Eugen Onegin), and in recent seasons has also conducted Pique Dame at Hamburg State Opera, Boris Godunov at the National Reisopera, La Bohème and Carmen at the Mikhailovsky Theatre, and Parsifal with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. Plans for 2013/14 include his debut at the Zurich Opera (Carmen) and performances of Tosca with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and Der fliegende Holländer with the Oslo Philharmonic and at the Mikhailovsky Theatre.
Recordings with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra include a rare double bill of Fleishman’s Rothschild’s Violin and Shostakovich’s The Gamblers, Rachmaninov’s Second and Third Symphonies (winner of the 2012 ECHO Klassik German Music Award for Newcoming Conductor of the Year), the complete piano concertos, Symphonic Dances and Isle of the Dead, and a critically acclaimed series of recordings for Naxos including Tchaikovsky’s Manfred (winner of the 2009 Gramophone Award for Best Orchestral Recording), the Liszt piano concertos, and an ongoing Shostakovich symphony cycle. In October 2007 Vasily Petrenko was named Young Artist of the Year at the annual Gramophone Awards, and in 2010 he won the Male Artist of the Year at the Classical Brit Awards. He is only the second person to have been awarded Honorary Doctorates by both the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Hope University (in 2009), and an Honorary Fellowship of the Liverpool John Moores University (in 2012), awards which recognise the immense impact he has had on the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the city’s cultural scene.