Known for her “dynamic presence in the pit” (The Guardian), Xian Zhang has served as Music Director of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi since September 2009. They made their televised BBC Proms debut in September 2013 with a programme of Verdi arias (with Joseph Calleja) and Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony. This season, Zhang and the orchestra will play an important part in EXPO 2015 in Milan. In Europe Zhang works at the highest level as a guest conductor, appearing regularly with the London Symphony and Royal Concertgebouw orchestras. Future engagements include the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and European Union Youth Orchestra, with whom she will tour to major European festivals in August 2015. Zhang continues to work frequently in North America and her engagements this season include New Jersey Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Orchestra. In her native China, she appears this season with Shanghai Symphony, China Philharmonic and Guangzhou Symphony orchestras. Described by The Guardian as a “hearton-sleeve Verdian”, last season Zhang opened the Verdi anniversary season with Francesca Zambello’s production of La forza del destino for Washington National Opera and closed theseason in a hugely successful debut for Welsh National Opera conducting Nabucco, both in Cardiff and at the Savonlinna Opera Festival. Current and future highlights on the stage include Romeo and Juliet for Teatro alla Scala in autumn 2014, a return to English National Opera in autumn 2015 and her debut with Den Norske Opera in January 2016. Throughout her career Zhang has championed Chinese composers. In May 2008 she completed a 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, will conduct Qigang Chen’s Iris Dévoilée with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and Tan Dun’s Resurrection Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic as part of their Chinese New Year celebrations. Since 2011, Zhang has been Artistic Director of NJO: talent in concert. 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. She was appointed the New York Philharmonic’s Assistant Conductor in 2002, subsequently becoming their Associate Conductor and first holder of the Arturo Toscanini Chair.