Xian Zhang

Music Director
The Jaqua Foundation Chair

Music Director Xian Zhang will remain at the helm of the New Jersey Symphony through and beyond its 100th anniversary in 2022. She has extended her contract as music director through the 2027–28 season. She is principal guest conductor of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and conductor emeritus of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi.

With the New Jersey Symphony, Zhang has commissioned works from composers such as Thomas Adès, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Qigang Chen, Christopher Rouse, Vivian Li, Darryl Kubian, Gary Morgan, Steven Mackey, Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride and Paquito D’Rivera. She is also responsible for introducing an annual Lunar New Year Celebration concert to the orchestra.

Recent US engagements include Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Boston Symphony’s Tanglewood Festival and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Xian Zhang remains a popular guest conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as well as Canada’s Montreal, National Arts Centre and Toronto Symphony orchestras.

Beyond the US and Canada, Zhang’s 2022–23 guest engagements include the London Symphony, Singapore Symphony and Orchestre National de Lille. Previous engagements include Philharmonia Orchestra, Spanish National Orchestra, the orchestra of Komische Oper in Berlin, and Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse.

Zhang will make her conducting debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 2024. Previous productions include Nabucco with Welsh National Opera, Otello with Finland’s Savonlinna Opera Festival, La Traviata with Norwegian Opera (Oslo), La Bohème with English National Opera and La forza del destino with Washington National Opera.

In recent seasons, she conducted the Orchestre National de Lyon at the Paris Philharmonie, and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France as part of La Folle Journée festival in Nantes.

Zhang was principal guest conductor of the BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales (the first female conductor to hold a titled role with a BBC orchestra). In 2002, she won first prize in the Maazel-Vilar Conductor’s Competition and was appointed the New York Philharmonic’s assistant conductor, subsequently becoming the Philharmonic’s associate conductor and the first holder of the Arturo Toscanini Chair.

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