In a live-streamed news conference from Berlin today, it was announced that the next Chief Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, succeeding Sir Simon Rattle, will be Kirill Petrenko.
Kirill Petrenko said: 'Words cannot express my feelings – everything from euphoria and great joy to awe and disbelief. I am aware of the responsibility and high expectations of me, and I will do everything in my power to be a worthy conductor of this outstanding orchestra. Above all, however, I hope for many moments of artistic happiness in our music-making together which will reward our hard work and fill our lives as artists with meaning.'
Kirill Petrenko built his reputation as a conductor in the opera house. His first formal appointment was as General Music Director of the Meiningen theatre (with his most notable achievement there being the staging of Wagner's Ring cycle in 2001). From there he moved to the Komische Oper in Berlin, where he served as General Music Director from 2002 to 2007. Several seasons as a guest conductor followed, including performances with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Petrenko was in the pit for Frank Castorf's controversial production of Wagner's Ring at Bayreuth in Wagner's bicentennial year. In 2013 Petrenko became the General Music Director of the Bayerische Staatsoper.
Petrenko's recording of Pfitzner's Palestrina was highly praised by Gramophone's Mike Ashman in 2012: 'Kirill Petrenko matches Rudolf Kempe’s recently rediscovered 1955 Salzburg performance: they’re both compelling story-tellers of large-scale operatic narrative who can mix and match dialogue scenes with varied tempi and dramatically appropriate orchestral balance.'
Below is a film of Petrenko conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in a section from Scriabin's Le Poème de l'extase, which amply demonstrates the excitement and power he is able to generate with the orchestra. It bodes well for the future.