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XIAN ZHANG has just ended her tenure as the New York Philharmonic’s Associate Conductor (and the first holder of the Arturo Toscanini Chair), a post she has held since 2005, after serving as Assistant Conductor for one year. Since making her Philharmonic debut conducting a Young People’s Concert on February 7, 2004, Zhang has led numerous concerts with the orchestra, including subscription concerts, three Memorial Day Concerts at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, a series of Concerts in the Parks, and performances during two of the orchestra’s residencies at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. Although she no longer holds a position with the New York Philharmonic, she will maintain a regular relationship with them and next returns in the 2009/10 season for a subscription week.
Zhang’s conducting is attracting ever-increasing attention throughout the world. In North America, the 2008/09 season sees her debuts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, the Toronto, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and Houston symphony orchestras, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. She also returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Cincinnati Symphony. She conducted at the Aspen Festival in the summers of 2007 and 2008 and makes her debut at the 2009 Caramoor Festival with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, which she conducted in her Carnegie Hall debut in February 2008.
In Europe, she is an annual guest with the London Symphony Orchestra, and she will make her debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in the spring of 2010. Other upcoming dates include the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Berliner Sinfonieorchester, the NDR Hannover, and the Frankfurt and Stuttgart Radio orchestras. At this summer’s Bregenz Festival, she will conduct the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
In January 2008 she became the first female maestro to conduct the Staatskapelle Dresden in their main hall. Critics praised the “musicianship of rare intensity” in her interpretation of Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony: “To hear this symphony performed with so much verve, bold contrasts and precise dynamics was a rare pleasure.” (Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten)
Xian Zhang incorporates Chinese compositions into her concert planning and this year has included Huang Ruo’s Fanfare with NYPO and works by Chen Yi (Momentum and Si Ji). She has just completed a major 6-concert tour to China with the Orchestra of the Juilliard School during which Chen Yi’s Ge Xu was performed in Shanghai, Beijing, and Suzhou.
An enthusiastic opera conductor, Xian Zhang made a sensational debut with La bohème for English National Opera in spring 2007, and her German opera debut came conducting Tosca with Frankfurt Opera in September 2008.
Born in Dandong, China, Zhang made her professional conducting debut at the age of 20 in Le nozze di Figaro at the Central Opera House in Beijing. She trained at Beijing’s Central Conservatory, earning both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees, and served one year on its conducting faculty before moving to the United States in 1998.