Xian Zhang, an inspired and inspiring conductor

She enthrals audiences, her concerts are met with rave reviews, and she conducts the most prestigious orchestras. The internationally renowned Chinese-American conductor Xian Zhang will make her conducting debut with the OSM on February 9, 2020. Hear her in a program devoted to two works composed on American soil: Dvořák’s “From the New World” Symphony and Korngold’s Violin Concerto.

A meteoric career

At age 20, while still a conservatory student, Xian Zhang was offered the opportunity by her teacher to conduct The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart at Beijing’s Central Opera House. In 2002, Xian won the Maazel/Vilar Conductors’ Competition in the United States. And her meteoric career took off. The associate conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Xian Zhang became the first woman to be appointed to titled roles of renowned orchestras: Conductor of the Giuseppe Verdi Symphony Orchestra of Milan; Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales; and Music Director of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, a position she has held since 2016.

Xian Zhang is aware that her professional success can inspire young female conductors just starting out. She firmly believes that there is a need for more women conductors: “In China, female conductors are not a new phenomenon; many conducting teachers are women.”

The secrets of success

Xian Zhang prepares each concert meticulously, aware that a conductor must work on two fronts: first, on inspiring and communicating precise information to musicians; and second, on creating a bond with an audience. That’s why she always strives to excel, which is something her parents taught her.

Before going on stage, Xian always takes 15 minutes to calm her thoughts in order to concentrate on the music and her work during the concert. On stage, you have to forget yourself, you have to be one with the music, surrender to it; it is this unique moment that Xian aspires to and loves.

Xian Zhang gives an average of 80 to 100 concerts around the world each year. She believes that a true musician can work in any country because music transcends cultural boundaries.

If she hadn’t been a conductor, Xian Zhang would have liked to be an architect or English to Chinese literary translator, because she loves words and languages.

Come and meet this inspired and inspiring conductor, at the helm of the OSM on February 9, 2020!

 “When girls see other women doing this job, they will feel that they can do it too.” – Xian Zhang