Valery Gergiev is a distinguished representative of the St Petersburg conducting school. While still a student at the Conservatory, he won the Herbert von Karajan Competition in Berlin. Since his arrival at the head of the Mariinsky Theatre in 1988, the institution has scaled new heights. Gergiev has taken Mariinsky Ballet, Opera and Orchestra ensembles to over 45 countries. He is the founder and director of prestigious international festivals including the White Nights Stars, the Moscow Easter Festival, the Gergiev Festival in Rotterdam, the Mikkeli Festival, Sapporo, the Pacific Music Festival and the 360 Degrees Festival in Munich. Since 2011 he has been the head of the organising committee of the International Tchaikovsky Competition. Much of his attention is focused on working with young musicians and his artistic achievements have earned him numerous titles and awards. In 2018, he succeeded Charles Dutoit as Music Director of the Verbier Festival Orchestra.