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XIAN ZHANG holds the positions of Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and 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. In December 2018, she embarked upon her first international tour with the orchestra to China, supported by British Council China as part of their Inspiring Women in the Arts campaign. She also holds the post of Conductor Emeritus of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, following her tenure as Music Director (2009–16).  

A popular guest conductor throughout the world, her engagements this season and next include the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic at the Concertgebouw, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Dallas Symphony, National Arts Center Ottawa, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Komische Oper Berlin, Barcelona Symphony, and MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig. 

Equally in demand in opera, she conducted a successful production of Nabucco with Welsh National Opera in June 2014, which subsequently transferred to Savonlinna, where she returned in 2016 for Otello. She conducts Rigoletto for National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing in 2020 and will make her Santa Fe Opera debut in Summer 2020.  

Xian Zhang is a regular conductor in her native China where she works with the NCPA, China Philharmonic, and Guangzhou Symphony orchestras, among others. A champion of Chinese composers, she has conducted works such as Chen Yi’s Ge Xu (Antiphony) with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Dorothy Chang’s Northern Star with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (2018), and Tan Dun’s The Triple Resurrection with the San Francisco Symphony (2018).  

Working with young musicians plays a major part in Zhang’s life. She held the position of Artistic Director of the NJO, Dutch Orchestra and Ensemble Academy (2010–15), and in 2015 made her hugely successful debut with the European Union Youth Orchestra, conducting them in Grafenegg, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rheingau, and Bolzano. In addition to conducting the Colburn Orchestra this season, she will also conduct the orchestra of the Juilliard School.