Houston Symphony

Vasily Petrenko And Elina Vähälä On The Secret Lives Of Violins, The Busy Life Of A Conductor And A Journey To Italy

A conversation with the Liverpool-and-Oslo-based Russian conductor and the American-born Finnish violinist, who meet for the first time in Houston.


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Vasily Petrenko and Elina Vähalä at HPM

When conductor Vasily Petrenko got on the plane for Houston earlier this week, the weather was freezing in Liverpool (where he is chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic). When he arrived in Houston, it was sunny and in the 80s.

The change of climate is perhaps appropriate, as the Russian-born maestro is here to conduct the Houston Symphony in a program that is filled with the warm and sunny spirit of Italy.

This weekend, Maestro Petrenko and Finnish violinist Elina Vähälä join the Houston Symphony for Verdi's Overture to Un giorno di regno (King for a Day), Respighi's Fountains of Rome and Pines of Rome, as well as John Corigliano's The Red Violin Concerto, inspired by the composer's Oscar-winning score to the 1998 movie.

After rehearsal this past Wednesday, Elina Vähälä and Vasily Petrenko stopped by to talk about music and life – from Elina's fated connection to The Red Violin Concerto and her own 1780 Guadagnini violin to Vasily's story about the advice he once got from legendary conductor Sir Georg Solti and more.

The Houston Symphony presents the program, The Pines of Rome, on Saturday, April 22, 8pm and Sunday, April 23, 2:30pm at Jones Hall.


Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Senior Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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