A relatively unknown conductor (in the U.S. at least) has been named the next music director of the Berlin Philharmonic (the Mount Everest of classical music jobs). It’s Kirill Petrenko (a good last name for classical music, Vassily no relation, is a fine conductor in the UK and Sweden and Mikhail, also no relation, is an outstanding operatic bass.)
Kirill is, judging by YouTube excerpts and the press he has received for work in Munich and Bayreuth (hardly small-time jobs), an extraordinary music-maker. He is also about as far from the persona of the media-savvy maestro as it would seem possible to get. (This is no disrespect to the Dudamels, Nézet-Séguins, Alsops, and the rest–merely an observation.) As Tom Service notes in a smart Guardian piece, it’s an admirable & bold choice on the Berlin Phil’s part: few orchestras, and surely no US groups, would hire a chief on musicianship and musical leadership alone. (When Barenboim left Chicago, he complained about the amount of non-musical work, including schmoozing for money, was required.) Kirill doesn’t give interviews, and describes himself as shy. Not a term I’d apply to many conductors. )
Here is a trailer of a concert with his future band in the music of Rudi Stephan (a new name to me and a composer he champions).
YouTube also has two endearing interviews with him from the Digital Concert Hall (done by musicians in the orchestra). And if you are looking for more, there’s a knockout performance of Franz Schmidt’s Symphony No. 4.
He is also the first Jewish music director of the Berlin Philharmonic. (The Forward hears a little Yiddish in his German.) This is also encouraging, given this particular orchestra’s history.