An image of a conductor, RPO Music Director Vasily Petrenko, holding a baton high with one hand wearing a black and white dress suit
Credit: Ben Wright

In September 2021 the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra embarked on a new and exciting era with a season of landmark concerts in the UK and internationally. It was the first full season following the COVID pandemic and it celebrated two milestones: the Orchestra’s 75th Anniversary and the long-awaited arrival of its new Music Director, Maestro Vasily Petrenko.

As a precursor to the formal start of the Orchestra’s 2021/22 Season, in August 2021 the RPO and Vasily Petrenko launched their musical partnership with a programme of works by Vaughan Williams, Respighi and Mendelssohn performed at the Royal Albert Hall as part the 2021 BBC Proms. This was followed by a performance at the Edinburgh International Festival with Isata Kanneh-Mason as soloist and a short European tour that included concerts in Wiesbaden, Merano and Bucharest, with solo violinist Julia Fischer.

2021/22 Season

Then in September, the 2021/22 Season began in earnest. From the very first performance at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall, given to mark the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s 75th Anniversary, it was clear to audiences and critics alike that the RPO/Petrenko partnership was going to produce music-making of exceptional quality. On that occasion the Orchestra and Petrenko were joined by a star-studded line up of soloists that included cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Sir Bryn Terfel for an anniversary celebration (also broadcast live on BBC Radio 3) that included Elgar’s Cello Concerto and Walton’s dramatic cantata Belshazzar’s Feast. The performance received a standing ovation and unanimous critical acclaim and set a high benchmark for the rest of the season.

An image of the RPO on stage at the Royal Albert Hall. Credit: Ben Wright

Credit: Ben Wright

The concert was also the first in the RPO’s series Great British Music: Freedom, Hope, Adventure, which explored masterpieces from British orchestral repertoire placed in the context of music composed in the same era in other parts of Europe. The series, conducted by Vasily Petrenko, included major symphonic works by Britten, Walton, Shostakovich, Vaughan Williams and Stravinsky.

Read more about the series below:

Great British Music


With no major tours possible for nearly two years due to the pandemic, Vasily and the RPO were excited to be ‘back on the road’ and in January 2022 we made the headlines by being the first international orchestra to perform in the United States of America since March 2020. The Orchestra’s coast-to-coast US tour comprised fourteen concerts in nine venues, with Olga Kern (piano) and the outstanding young cellist Kian Soltani as soloists.

An image of the RPO on stage at Carnegie Hall with Vasily Petrenko conducting and Kian Soltani playing cello. Credit Richard Termine

Credit: Richard Termine 

The tour culminated in a much-anticipated sell-out concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall as part of the 'Carnegie Hall Presents' series. The all-British programme included Britten’s Four Sea Interludes, Elgar’s Cello Concerto (with Kian Soltani as soloist) and Holst’s The Planets, which had not been heard at the hall for decades. We were thrilled to perform this 'transcendent' music with 'unalloyed joy' (Bachtrack) to such an appreciative audience.

Check out more from across the tour below:



East Coast and Carnegie Hall

The Orchestra and Vasily Petrenko returned to the UK on a musical high to perform at London Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall. The Planets was again on the programme, but this time alongside a new work Ellipsis by the young British composer Dani Howard, commissioned to mark the RPO’s 75th Anniversary. Howard described the work as "a time-lapse of London over the last 75 years, with the Orchestra at the heart of this... I hoped to create an image of this constantly evolving entity, over time, with a bold and positive look to the future, with a 'to be continued…' sort of ending."

An image of the RPO on stage at Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, where composer Dani Howard wearing a green dress is applauded by the audience

May 2022 saw the RPO embark on its first major European tour since the COVID-19 pandemic, performing ten concerts across Germany, conducted by Vasily Petrenko and featuring star soloists Anne-Sophie Mutter and Khatia Buniatishvili. With performances in Germany’s major cities including Hamburg, Cologne, Munich and Dusseldorf.

“transparent, nimble playing and precise intonation ... the British orchestra’s musicians offered a full rich sound alongside transparent shimmering timbres”.
Westdeutsche Zeitung

“Petrenko's conducting style is exact and finely drawn, full of verve and energy"
Stuttgarter Nachrichten

An image of Anne-Sophie Mutter with the string section of the RPO on stage in informal wear

An image of Vasily Petrenko conducting the RPO on stage, the view is from the point-of-view of the cellos

Discover more from the tour of Germany below:

Germany Tour

The ‘dream team’s’ first London season together closed on a very dramatic note with the final concert in our Great British Music series at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. The capacity audience was transfixed by a programme that comprised Elgar's Sea Pictures (with the mellifluous mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge) and Mahler's epic Symphony No.6. One critic commented that Petrenko and his musicians gave "...a shattering performance of volcanic power and leaving one in no doubt as to the strength of [Vasily Petrenko’s] relationship with the RPO." Bachtrack ★★★★.

A fitting climax to a highly successful season.

Looking ahead to the 2022/23 Season

With the 2022/23 Season fast approaching, we look forward with great anticipation to yet more outstanding performances from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Vasily Petrenko, both in the UK and around the world.

In London, the 2022/23 season will take as its theme ‘Journeys of Discovery’, with the RPO and Vasily Petrenko taking a journey through the facets of the human character with music as their guide.

An artwork image for Journey's of Discovery. It features many elements including a river, sunrise, fish, poppies and a house.

View the full season below:

Journeys of Discovery 22/23

Further afield, the RPO and Petrenko will visit countries including Slovenia, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, Poland, Lithuania, Greece, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Japan and South Korea.

Here’s to another successful season of music-making; we invite you to Join the Journey.

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