THE posters have been up around town for some weeks.
The publicity machine has been well-oiled, and “Liverpool's latest signing”, as the billboards say around the city, is now well and truly installed at the Philharmonic.
It helps, probably, that Vasily Petrenko is a Liverpool FC fan. It remains to be seen whether classical music fans will take to him as the new principal conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra or whether the orchestra's management has netted a spectacular own goal. Certainly, Petrenko's track record is good, with critics lauding his ability to coax exciting and amazing sounds out of the orchestra, which might help the Philharmonic management breathe just that bit easier.
And, at 29, he's the youngest conductor in the RLPO's venerable history to take over such a demanding and important role.
He takes over the rostrum from Gerard Schwarz, an inspired choice of principal conductor when he first came to Liverpool, but whose relationship with the orchestra soured over the years and who bade farewell to the RLPO early in the summer.
The hope for Petrenko, however, is that he can return the orchestra to the glory days when Libor Pesek was at the helm, when virtually every concert was a barnstorming success and tickets, if you could find them, were at a premium.
Signs were, at the Philharmonic, that the old magic was on its way back. The hall was packed, not a common occurrence in recent years. And the old musical buzz was there – witness the standing ovation and thunderous applause at the end of Rachmaninov's Second Symphony.
"I think we've got the old magic back," said Michael Elliott, RLP chief executive. "We're putting Liverpool back on the musical map as we move towards the city's 800th birthday and the Capital of Culture celebrations. This was a great start."
Roger Lewis, chairman of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, talked of an old job finishing and a new job starting, even greeting the first Russian principal conductor in the 166-year history of the society in his own language. It was even the first time Petrenko's son, Alex, watched his father conduct.