Skip to page content

Xian Zhang


About this Artist

Xian Zhang is currently Music Director with New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. She also holds the post of Conductor Emeritus of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, following her tenure as Music Director (2009– 16). She was Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales 2016-2019 and was the first female conductor to hold a titled role with a BBC orchestra.

A popular guest conductor throughout the world, her engagements this season and next include the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic at the Concertgebouw, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New World Symphony, Dallas Symphony, National Arts Center Ottawa, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Komische Oper Berlin, Barcelona Symphony, and MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig. Further ahead, she works with Melbourne, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia, and London symphony orchestras. 

Equally in demand in opera, she conducted a successful production of Nabucco with Welsh National Opera in June 2014, which subsequently transferred to Savonlinna, where she returned in 2016 for Otello. Other notable opera engagements include La Traviata with Den Norske Opera (2016) and La bohème with English National Opera (2015). She conducts Rigoletto for National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing in 2020 and will additionally make her Santa Fe Opera debut in Summer 2020 with a world premiere by Huang Ruo.

Xian Zhang is a regular conductor in her native China where she works with the NCPA, China Philharmonic, and Guangzhou Symphony orchestras, among others. A champion of Chinese composers, she has conducted works such as Chen Yi’s Ge Xu (Antiphony) with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Dorothy Chang’s Northern Star with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (2018), and Tan Dun’s i with the San Francisco Symphony (2018), Qigang Chen’s Er Huang (NCPA Orchestra, 2017) and Iris Dévoilée (BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Proms; and China NCPA Orchestra, 2015).  

Working with young musicians plays a major part in Zhang’s life. She held the position of Artistic Director of the NJO, Dutch Orchestra and Ensemble Academy (2010–15), and in 2015 made her hugely successful debut with the European Union Youth Orchestra, conducting them in Grafenegg, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rheingau, and Bolzano.