With her passionate, energetic style, the Chinese conductor Xian Zhang, whose name can be translated as ‘open thread’ (or ‘open string’), is increasingly attracting international attention. She was appointed music director of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, also known as ‘La Verdi’, in 2009 and has held the post of artistic director of the Dutch Orchestra and Ensemble Academy (NJO) since 2011.
After completing her studies at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, Zhang made her professional debut at the China National Opera where she worked for a year before emigrating to the US in 1998. She was quickly appointed the youngest faculty member at the Cincinnati College–Conservatory of Music. In 2004, she led the New York Philharmonic in a Young People’s Concert and was immediately appointed assistant conductor by music director Lorin Maazel. She then accepted a three-year appointment as associate conductor.
Zhang now lives in Europe and is making a growing number of guest appearances. In addition to her close ties with the New York Philharmonic, Zhang also performs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. In the Netherlands, she led the Residentie Orchestra in a DNO production of Stravinsky’s The Nightingale in January 2012.
Zhang made her first appearance with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2010, when she conducted works by Adès, Prokofiev and Stravinsky. She is returning in January 2013 to lead the orchestra in a programme featuring music by Lutosławski, Bartók and Glanert.