BERLIN (AP) — The Berlin Philharmonic on Monday named Siberian-born Kirill Petrenko as its next chief conductor — one of the most prestigious jobs in the world of classical music.
Petrenko, currently music director of the Bavarian State Opera, won the Berlin job despite only having worked with its musicians on three previous occasions.
The orchestra made the announcement at a news conference at its concert hall in Berlin. Petrenko, 43, will take over from Simon Rattle, who is leaving to take over the London Symphony Orchestra.
Berlin Philharmonic members select their own conductor. They held several rounds of voting in May but failed to agree. They finally reached a decision in a vote Sunday.
Violist Ulrich Knoerzer, an orchestra board member, said that the usual chatter among musicians is whether to invite guest conductors back at all. With Petrenko, they were discussing how soon they could invite him back.
“Our wish to have him as soon and as often as possible then got stronger and stronger over the next two engagements so that our decision was, now we want him completely,” Knoerzer said at the news conference.
Petrenko didn’t appear at the news conference and orchestra spokeswoman Elisabeth Hilsdorf said he does not give interviews.
Violinist Stanley Dodds read a brief statement from him in which he said that “I am aware of the responsibility and high expectations placed in me and I will do everything in my power to be a worthy conductor of this outstanding orchestra.”
The Berlin Philharmonic has had only three chief conductors in six decades — Herbert von Karajan from 1954-89, followed by Claudio Abbado and then Rattle, who arrived in 2002.
Petrenko was born into a musical family — violinist father, musicologist mother — in 1972 in the city of Omsk in Russia. He first played in public with the symphony orchestra there as an 11-year-old pianist. The family immigrated to Austria in 1990, where he studied conducting at the University of Music in Vienna.
He is currently general music director of the Bavarian State Opera and led Berlin’s Comic Opera from 2002 to 2007. He won notice as a rising star with a well-received 2001 performance of Richard Wagner’s “Ring of the Nibelung” at the Meiningen Theater in Germany. His resume includes work at major opera venues including the Vienna State Opera, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the Bayreuth Festival and Covent Garden in London and with many of the world’s major symphony orchestras.
Orchestra representatives said that Petrenko is bound by his current contract with the State Opera in Munich until 2018 and that negotiations would begin about his exact start date. The length of his contract was also left open.
McHugh reported from Frankfurt, Germany.