The Russian maestro beats Thielemann and Dudamel to succeed Sir Simon Rattle in 2018.

The Russian conductor Kirill Petrenko has been elected as the next Chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. The musicians made their decision after a relatively brief three hour meeting yesterday, breaking the deadlock that appeared to exist following their previous electoral’conclave’ six weeks ago.

Petrenko, who was considered an outsider as he has only guest conducted the orchestra a handful of times in the past, and not within the last couple of years, was elected by a large majority of members as Chief Conductor Designate to follow Sir Simon Rattle in August 2018. He will also become Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation.

“Words cannot express my feelings – everything from euphoria and great joy to awe and disbelief,,” said Petrenko via a BPO press release. “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.”

The surprise announcement came in a rushed statement after the news was apparently leaked to a Berlin radio station. Petrenko, who will be the orchestra’s first Russian chief as well as their first Jewish one, is notoriously interview shy but is considered by many to be one of the finest conductors of his generation and is already the artistic leader of the Bavarian State Opera. He has built an excellent reputation for Wagner as well over several seasons at the Bayreuth Festival.

The news followed intense speculation about who would lead the world’s most iconic orchestra with Christian Thielemann and Gustavo Dudamel among the higher profile names in the frame. Amidst the congratulations there has been a distinct suggestion that many applaud the orchestra’s decission to choose quiet talent over superstar status.

Orchestra Board members Ulrich Knörzer and Peter Riegelbauer said: “We are extremely pleased that Kirill Petrenko has accepted his election as Chief Conductor Designate of our orchestra. We look forward to our musical future together with great confidence”, while Sir Simon Rattle added: “I have admired Kirill Petrenko for years, and I am delighted that he will be my successor with this wonderful orchestra. I congratulate the Philharmoniker on making such a forwardlooking decision.”

Subscribe to Limelight - AWO Offer