Recently appointed Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, effective from the 2016/17 season, XIAN ZHANG has served as Music Director of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi since September 2009 with highlights including their televised debut at the BBC Proms in 2013, with Joseph Calleja. From September 2016, Zhang takes on the position of Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales, thereby becoming the first female conductor to hold a titled role with a BBC orchestra.
A regular conductor with the London Symphony and Royal Concertgebouw orchestras, Xian Zhang's recent highlights include her debut with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg and Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España as well as performances with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales at the BBC Proms and Orchestre National de Belgique where she will perform again this season.
Recent operatic performances include a return to English National Opera in October 2015 conducting La bohème, and her debut with Den Norske Opera in January 2016 conducting La traviata. Following Zhang's hugely successful production of Nabucco with Welsh National Opera in June 2014, which subsequently transferred to the Savonlinna Festival, she returned to the festival in summer 2016 to conduct Otello - marking her debut with the opera company itself.
Zhang frequently returns to her native China where she is a regular conductor with the China Philharmonic, Beijing Symphony and Guangzhou Symphony orchestras. A champion for Chinese composers, last season she conducted Qigang Chen’s Iris Devoilee with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and National Centre for the Performing Arts where she will return in 2017, the world premiere of Qigang Chen’s Luan Tan with the Hong Kong Philharmonic in spring 2015 - a work commissioned by the orchestra - as well as Tan Dun's Resurrection Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Working with young talented musicians continues to play a major part in Zhang’s life. She has held the position of Artistic Director of the NJO, Dutch Orchestra and Ensemble Academy since 2011, and last summer she made her hugely successful debut with the European Union Youth Orchestra, conducting them in Grafenegg, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rheingau and Bolzano.
Born in Dandong, China, Xian Zhang made her professional debut conducting Le nozze di Figaro at the Central Opera House in Beijing at the age of 20. She trained at Beijing’s Central Conservatory, earning both her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees, and served one year on its conducting faculty before moving to the United States in 1998. She was appointed as the New York Philharmonic’s Assistant Conductor in 2002, subsequently becoming their Associate Conductor and the first holder of the Arturo Toscanini Chair.