Petrenko succeeds Gerard Schwarz, the Americna conductor who completes a five-year tenure as music director at the end of the 2005-06 season. Schwarz's contract was not renewed, reportedly because of dissatisfaction with his leadership among musicians.
Petrenko studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and became resident conductor at the St. Petersburg State Opera and Ballet Theatre while still a teenager. He has since guest-conducted the City of Birmingham Symphony, Gothenberg Symphony, and Orchestre National du Capitole du Toulouse, among other groups. He made his RLPO debut in November 2004.
At 29, Petrenko is the youngest principal conductor in the history of the Philharmonic.
"We are delighted to welcome Vasily Petrenko to Liverpool," said Roger Lewis, the orchestra's chairman, "We are carefully building a family of musicians who together will take the Phil forward and Vasily will play a pivotal role as our principal conductor as we approach 2008. The quality of artists and the range of repertoire for the coming years indicate our ambition to celebrate Liverpool as European Capital of Culture at the very highest musical level."
Petrenko has signed a three-year contract that calls for him to lead at least 25 programs each year starting in 2006-07. In addition, he will lead two programs next season.