Music Director – New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
Principal Guest Conductor – Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Conductor Emeritus – Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi
“Beethoven’s Fifth, which was given an agile, but full-bodied performance by Zhang… Zhang’s reading brought plenty of focus to the beauty of the wind lines, and she drew some fine pianissimos from the orchestra – the slithering lower strings of the third movement and the spritely pizzicato section was nicely done, the conductor getting an exquisitely soft sound from the musicians. With her bow drawn back so far, when she released and the crescendo swept into the fourth movement’s majestic opening, the ensemble suddenly sounded enormous, setting up the work’s rousing climax..” [Sydney Symphony Orchestra at Sydney Opera House, July 2019]
Xian Zhang currently serves as Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. She will become the Principal Guest Conductor of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 2020. She also holds the post of Conductor Emeritus of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, following a hugely successful period from 2009–2016 as Music Director. She has previously served as Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales, becoming the first female conductor to hold a titled role with a BBC orchestra.
The acclaim she has been receiving for her work in New Jersey has resulted in a strong North American career, with upcoming engagements which include Chicago, Dallas, Baltimore, Montreal, Ottawa (NAC), Cincinnati, Houston, Minnesota Symphonies. In August 2019, she returned to Los Angeles Philharmonic to conduct the world premiere of a work by Caroline Shaw and Beethoven 9.
Xian Zhang’s 2019/20 European engagements include London (with both the Philharmonia in Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, and the English Chamber Orchestra in a programme of Thomas Adès, Richard Strauss and Ravel), Paris (in the Philharmonie with Orchestre National de Lyon in Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, and with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France as part of La Folle Journée festival in Nantes), and Belgium (returning to work with the Orchestre National de Belgique). She will also make her debut with MDR Leipzig.
Previous opera engagements have included Nabucco with Welsh National Opera, Otello with Savonlinna Festival, La Traviata for Den Norske Opera (Oslo), La Bohème for English National Opera and La forza del destino with National Opera, Washington D.C. She will lead a production of Rigoletto for the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing in July 2020. She will make her debut with Santa Fe opera in August 2020.
In 2002, she won first prize in the Maazel-Vilar Conductor’s Competition. She was appointed New York Philharmonic’s Assistant Conductor in 2002, subsequently becoming their Associate Conductor and the first holder of the Arturo Toscanini Chair.