On Wednesday, February 26, NAC Foundation supporters spent a wonderful morning listening to the NAC Orchestra in rehearsal with conductor Xian Zhang. The Orchestra performed and refined Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 with soloist George Li, Symphony No. 41 (known as “Jupiter”) and Qigang Chen’s piece for string orchestra, L’éloignement with Maestra Zhang for that evening’s concert.
During the intermission break, Maestra Zhang answered questions from the audience, many which centred on her journey as a conductor. Zhang revealed that she was born in China in the 1970s during the Cultural Revolution, and that her father built her a piano—most pianos in China had been burned by that time. Zhang started playing the instrument when she was three years old and was taught by her mother. She entered the conservatory when she was 11 and eventually a female conductor/teacher encouraged her to conduct.
Although being one of few female conductors propelled Zhang’s ambition, she confided that she believes that it should not matter what one’s sex is—a comment that received warm applause from the audience. Ultimately, she said, all of the composition’s authority comes from the study of the score, and that’s where the orchestra and the conductor meet. Indeed, NAC Foundation supporters could agree that this “meeting” between the NAC Orchestra and Maestra Zhang was a magical one that created beautiful music.
Attending open rehearsals like this is one of the many benefits donors receive when they support performance, creation and learning across Canada through the National Arts Centre Foundation.
A special thank you to our Open Rehearsal and Preview Sponsor, Rob Marland and Jane Forsyth of Royal LePage Performance Marland Realty, who makes these sessions possible for NAC Foundation donors.