New Jersey Symphony Extends Xian Zhang as Music Director

The orchestra has extended the contract of the Chinese-American conductor through the 2027/2028 season

(Photo credit: B Ealovega)


Currently holding positions such as the Principal Guest Conductor of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Conductor Emeritus of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Xian Zhang is in her sixth season with the New Jersey Symphony.

In addition to her contract extension, Xian Zhang will also lead the orchestra's milestone centennial in a star-studded program with guests artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Yefim Bronfman, Michelle Cann, Hilary Hahn, and Daniil Trifonov. Audiences will also hear world premieres of pieces by Resident Artistic Catalyst Daniel Bernard Roumain, Steven Mackey, Chen Yi, and New Jersey Symphony violinist Darryl Kubian.

“Xian’s transformative artistic leadership over the past six years has led us to this milestone centennial, and we are so proud to announce that she will continue to lead the Symphony through our 2027–28 season,” NJS President & CEO Gabriel van Aalst said.

“The centennial season will be a great celebration at a much higher magnitude than anything our audience has previously experienced in our concerts. We will honor our traditions, but at the same time, do new pieces that excite our audience and our orchestra," commented Xian. "This season, we’re featuring outstanding artists from all backgrounds, an amazing variety of music and spectacular performances that bring in visuals, film and dance. There will also be wonderful opportunities for our orchestra musicians to show off how brilliant they are.”

The centennial also welcomes back former Music Directors Jacques Lacombe, Neeme Järvi, and Hugh Wolff in addition to former Assistant Conductor Gemma New and former Interim Music Director George Manahan.

Xian Zhang was the first female conductor to hold a titled role with a BBC orchestra, as the Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales. In 2002, she won first prize in the Maazel-Vilar Conductor’s Competition and was appointed New York Philharmonic’s Assistant Conductor. She later became NY Phil's Associate Conductor and the first holder of the Arturo Toscanini Chair.