Petrenko's education began at the St. Petersburg Capella Boys Music School, the oldest such school in Russia. He finished his training at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and began making the rounds of the competition circuit. He took first prize in the 1997 Shostakovich
Choral Conducting Competition in St. Petersburg, second prize in the 2003 Prokofiev Conducting Competition in St. Petersburg, and first prize in the 2004 Cadaques International Conducting Competition in Spain.
During this time -- specifically from 1994-1997 -- Petrenko served as resident conductor of the St. Petersburg State Opera and Ballet Theater, where he developed a personal repertory of more than 30 operas. During later seasons Petrenko conducted many key orchestras in Russia, including the St. Petersburg Philharmonic and the Moscow Philharmonic
. Since 1994 Petrenko has also been chief conductor of the State Academy Orchestra of St. Petersburg, a post he concurrently held with his Liverpool assignment until 2007. More appointments followed as his reputation grew. He was named principal conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain in 2009, and chief conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic
In the late 1990s Petrenko found time for increasing guest-conducting appearances, initially with Russian orchestras, and at the turn of the millennium with many secondary European orchestras (BBC Philharmonic
, Swedish Radio
, Gothenburg, Barcelona, and the like). He did not abandon opera, appearing with such companies as the Hamburg State Opera, La Monnaie in Brussels, and Glyndebourne, mainly in Russian repertory.
The Russian orchestral literature also dominates his recordings, which include an award winning album of Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony, and a Shostakovich
symphonic series begun in 2009 for Naxos