In an acclaimed first season as Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Xian Zhang “clearly made her mark,” NJ Advance Media writes. “Now it’s time to see how high [the Orchestra] can soar.” Zhang continues her tenure in 2017–18 with performances of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, Mahler’s First Symphony and Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony, among others.
In September 2016, Zhang assumed the position of 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 season culminated in a televised BBC Proms performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, anticipating the start of a two-year project devoted to the composer’s complete symphonies. Her 2017–18 BBC NOW season includes a concert tour of Wales. Zhang is also Conductor Emeritus of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, following completion of her tenure as Music Director from 2009–16.
Forthcoming engagements include return visits to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Belgique, Orquesta Nacional de España and Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, as well as debuts with the San Francisco Symphony, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Vancouver Symphony, Royal Philharmonic and NAC Orchestra, Ottawa, plus concerts with the orchestras of Komische Oper and Royal Stockholm Opera. Zhang is invited regularly to the London Symphony and Royal Concertgebouw orchestras; recent highlights include her debut with The Cleveland Orchestra and a gala concert with Renée Fleming and the China NCPA Orchestra.
Born in Dandong, China, Zhang made her professional debut conducting The Marriage of Figaro at the Central Opera House in Beijing at the age of 20. She trained at Beijing’s Central Conservatory, earning both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees and serving one year on its conducting faculty before moving to the United States in 1998. She was appointed the New York Philharmonic’s Assistant Conductor in 2002, then became its Associate Conductor and first holder of the Arturo Toscanini Chair.