The Kennedy Center

Xian Zhang


2012/13 marks Xian Zhang's fourth season as Music Director of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, and in September 2013 she will take the orchestra to the BBC Proms. Since 2011, Zhang has been Artistic Director of the NJO: Dutch Orchestra and Ensemble Academy. Prior to this, she held the position of New York Philharmonic’s Associate Conductor and was the first holder of the Arturo Toscanini Chair, having previously been their Assistant Conductor.

In increasing demand as a guest conductor Zhang ended the 2011/12 season with an acclaimed performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with The Philadelphia Orchestra and a concert with Yuja Wang and the Staatskapelle Dresden at the impressive Glaserne Manufaktur. Recent highlights include performances of Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible with the London Symphony Orchestra and concerts with the Oslo Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Danish National and Swedish Radio Symphony orchestras, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Wiener Symphoniker at the Bregenzer Festspiele, the Residentie Orkest and Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine. Further afield, in April 2012 she debuted with the China Philharmonic, Guangzhou Symphony and Tokyo Symphony orchestras. This season sees her debut with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and return visits to the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France (with Truls Mørk), SWR Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart to conduct Zemlinsky's Die Seejungfrau and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra for a performance of Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem. In 2013/14 she will return to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Although now based in Europe, Zhang continues to work frequently in North America and her recent appearances there have included concerts with Chicago, Washington’s National, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Indianapolis symphony orchestras. In 2012/13 she makes her debuts with the Atlanta Symphony and Florida orchestras. She enjoys a strong relationship with the orchestra of the Juilliard School and conducted the world premiere of Augusta Read Thomas' Jubilee at the Lincoln Center in April 2010.

Equally established as an opera conductor, Xian Zhang made a successful debut with La bohème for English National Opera in spring 2007 and an equally impressive debut with De Nederlandse Opera in Robert Lepage’s double-bill of Stravinsky’s Renard and Le Rossignol in January 2012. This season she will conduct Le Nozze di Figaro as part of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, and future plans include La forza del destino for Washington National Opera in the autumn of 2013, as well as appearances at Welsh National Opera and her debut at La Scala in 2014.

Throughout her career Zhang has championed Chinese composers, particularly the works of Chen Yi (including Momentum). In May 2008 she completed a major six-concert tour of China with the Orchestra of the Juilliard School during which Chen Yi's Ge Xu was performed in Shanghai, Beijing and Suzhou. She also conducted Huang Ruo’s Fanfare with the New York Philharmonic and in December 2012 conducts the Dutch premiere of Qigang Chen's Wi Xing with Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra at Amsterdam's Concertgebouw.

Born in Dandong, China, Xian Zhang made her professional debut conducting Le nozze di Figaro at the Central Opera House in Beijing at the age of 20. She trained at Beijing’s Central Conservatory, earning both her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees, and served one year on its conducting faculty before moving to the United States in 1998. Winning the Maazel/Vilar conducting competition in 2002 effectively launched her career.

July 2013

Xian Zhang