The 2011/12 season marks Xian Zhang's third year as Music Director of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, her contract having recently been extended to the end of 2014/15. She is also Artistic Director of the NJO / Dutch Orchestra and Ensemble Academy and conducted her first summer course with them in August 2011. Prior to this, she held the position of New York Philharmonic’s Associate Conductor (and the first holder of the Arturo Toscanini Chair) for three years having previously been their Assistant Conductor.
In increasing demand as a guest conductor in Europe, future engagements include Wiener Symphoniker, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine and Residentie Orkest as well as the London Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony and Gothenburg Symphony orchestras. Further ahead, she will return to the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in 2013/2014. Debuts last season included performances with Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, NDR Sinfonieorchester, Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien, Danish National and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and a return to SWR Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart.
Although now based in Europe, she continues to work in North America and last season's engagements included Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Dates this season and next include New Jersey, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Atlanta and Indianapolis symphony orchestras. She enjoys a strong relationship with the orchestra of the Juilliard School and recently conducted the world premiere of a new work by Augusta Read Thomas at the Lincoln Center.
As an opera conductor, Xian Zhang made a sensational debut with La bohème for English National Opera in spring 2007 and will return to the ENO in 2013/14. She conducted Turandot in Beijing in May 2009. She makes her debut with De Nederlandse Opera in a double-bill, directed by Robert Lepage of Stravinsky’s Renard and Le Rossignol, in January 2012. Future plans include her debut at La Scala in 2013/14 and concert performances of Turandot at the Schleswig Holstein Festival in summer 2012.
Xian 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 on 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. She returns to China in April 2012 to conduct China Philharmonic and Guanghzhou Symphony.
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.