Xian Zhang

Last updated: October 15, 2021

Xian Zhang is currently in her sixth season as Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Since taking up this position, she has commissioned works from such composers as Thomas Adès, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Qigang Chen, Christopher Rouse, Vivian Li, Gary Morgan, Christian McBride, and Paquito D’Rivera. She is responsible for introducing an annual Lunar New Year Celebration concert to the orchestra and will remain at the helm of the orchestra through and beyond their 100th anniversary in 2022. 

The acclaim she has been receiving for her work in New Jersey has resulted in a strong North American career, with upcoming engagements which include returns to San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia, Detroit New World, Minnesota, Montreal, NAC Ottawa, and Toronto Symphony orchestras. Lauded by Steven Smith in The New York Times as a “virtual-concert jet-setter”, she has been championing works by Nokuthula Ngwenyama, Tyshawn Sorey, and William Grant Still. 

Xian Zhang holds the positions of Principal Guest Conductor of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Conductor Emeritus of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, following a hugely successful period from 2009–2016 as Music Director. She has previously served as Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales and was 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.  

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