Belfast Telegraph

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra announces new music director

The orchestra said it would launch ‘bold projects’ and an ‘adventurous repertoire’ under Vasily Petrenko’s leadership.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra has announced that Vasily Petrenko will succeed Charles Dutoit, after its principal conductor stepped down early following allegations of sexual assault.

Dutoit, 81, who has denied allegations of sexual assault, saying they have “absolutely no basis in truth”, left his role as principal conductor and artistic director earlier this year.

Petrenko will be the orchestra’s new music director, in a broader role incorporating Dutoit’s former position.

The orchestra (RPO) said it would launch “bold projects” and an “adventurous repertoire” under Petrenko’s leadership.

Petrenko said: “I am delighted to become music director at this stage in the RPO’s history.

“This orchestra … has enormous potential.

“The RPO has a very modern approach and a youthful energy which underpin its music-making.

“We want to attract new and, especially, young audiences, embrace digital technologies and structure exciting seasons in London which can then be toured nationally and internationally.

“This will be a new chapter for an orchestra with a glorious past and high ambitions for the future – my goal is to see this realised on the world’s leading concert platforms.”

The Russian conductor, 42, currently chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, will begin his tenure at the beginning of the 2021–22 season, initially for five years.

At an emergency boardroom meeting earlier this year, the orchestra said that it had decided, alongside Dutoit, to bring forward his resignation.

“Whilst Mr Dutoit continues to seek legal counsel to defend himself, the protracted uncertainty and media reporting makes Mr Dutoit’s position with the orchestra untenable,” it said in a statement.

“The RPO is committed to the highest standards of ethical behaviour and takes very seriously its responsibility to maintain a safe working environment for all its artists, musicians and staff.”

Swiss-born Dutoit has called the allegations “as shocking to me as they are to my friends and colleagues”, adding: “I do not recognise the man or the actions being described in the media.”

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