The Jaqua Foundation Chair
Xian Zhang is currently in her eighth season as Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony, who celebrated their centennial last season. Zhang also holds the positions of Principal Guest Conductor of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Conductor Emeritus of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano, having previously held the position of Music Director between 2009–2016.
In high demand as a guest conductor, Zhang juggles an exceptionally busy diary of guest engagements alongside her titled commitments. Throughout 2023–24, she conducts Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Anthony Minghella’s acclaimed production features a starry cast with Aleksandra Kurzak, Eleanora Buratto and Asmik Grigorian sharing the role of Cio-Cio-San, and Matthew Polezani as Pinkerton.
Following a busy summer 2023 season which saw her conducting Boston Symphony at Tanglewood, Zhang’s upcoming symphonic highlights include returns to the Philadelphia Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, Houston Symphony, Orchestra of St Luke’s, and National Symphony Orchestra DC. Zhang remains a popular guest of London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Toronto Symphony, NAC Ottawa, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Belgian National Orchestra, and Norwegian Opera where she returned last season for Puccini’s Tosca.
Letters for The Future (released 2022), Zhang’s recording on Deutsche Grammophon with Philadelphia Orchestra and Time for Three, won multiple GRAMMY awards in both the Best Contemporary Classical Composition (Kevin Puts’ Contact) and Best Classical Instrumental Solo categories.
Zhang previously served as 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. She was appointed New York Philharmonic’s Assistant Conductor in 2002, subsequently becoming their Associate Conductor and the first holder of the Arturo Toscanini Chair.