Born in St Petersburg and educated at the St Petersburg Capella Boys Music School, the oldest music school in Russia, Vasily Petrenko studied at the St Petersburg Conservatoire and has also participated in masterclasses with such major figures as Ilya Musin, Mariss Jansons, and Yuri Temirkanov.

In 2021, Petrenko will take up the position of Music Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London and the 19/20 season will see him work on numerous projects with the orchestra both at home and on tour. Currently, Petrenko holds the position of Chief Conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (appointed in 2013/14), Chief Conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Chief Conductor of the European Union Youth Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia (since 2016).

In September 2017, Vasily Petrenko was honoured with the Artist of the Year award at the prestigious annual Gramophone Awards, one decade on from receiving their Young Artist of the Year award in October 2007. In 2010 he won the Male Artist of the Year at the Classical Brit Awards. He is only the second person to have been awarded Honorary Doctorates by both the University of Liverpool and Liverpool Hope University (in 2009), and an Honorary Fellowship of the Liverpool John Moores University (in 2012), and Honorary Doctorate from the University of York (2018), awards which recognise the immense impact he has had on the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the wider cultural scene.