University to award Vasily Petrenko Honorary Degree

Posted on 18 January 2018

World-class conductor Vasily Petrenko is among eight leading figures from the world of performing arts, politics, business and journalism to receive honorary degrees from the University of York this weekend (19 and 20 January 2018).

The University of York confers the honorary degree of Doctor of the University honoris causa on individuals who have made outstanding contributions to society.

The recipients of 2018 honorary degrees, which will be awarded as part of the University's winter graduation ceremonies, are:

  • Former President of the Federal Republic of Germany Professor Dr Horst Koehler.
  • Pianist, poet and author Alfred Brendel.
  • Vasily Petrenko, chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. 
  • Sacha Romanovitch, the first woman to lead a major City accountancy firm.
  • One of the three founding executives of Freeserve, the UK’s largest Internet Service Provider, Rob Wilmot
  • Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, engineer, educator and government advisor.
  • Dame Vivian Hunt, Managing Partner for McKinsey & Company’s United Kingdom and Ireland offices who has been identified as one of the 30 most influential people in the City of London by the Financial Times. 
  • Award-winning journalist Orla Guerin, currently based in Cairo for BBC News.


Credit: Mark McNulty
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Vasily Petrenko is one of the most highly-regarded conductors in the world. He is chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra taking up the baton in 2006. Their award-winning musical partnership in concerts, broadcasts and recordings has attracted world-wide critical acclaim and helped build new audiences for classical music, including many young people.

Vasily is deeply committed to providing opportunities for people to enjoy and participate in music from the earliest age, that genuinely achieve positive change within and beyond music, contributing to improving musical skills, confidence, health, education and aspirations for  participants and audiences. He is actively involved in such initiatives, including Liverpool Philharmonic’s In Harmony Liverpool, and Musician in Residence programme with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Vasily supports and mentors young musicians, conductors and composers. Along with his Liverpool position, he is chief conductor of the European Union Youth Orchestra and has served as principal conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. His passion for music takes him around the globe as a guest conductor with many more of the world’s great orchestras.

Vasily’s strong interest in public engagement and encouraging access to musical education are aligned with the University’s interest and support for the advancement of music education in the UK.