New Jersey’s new music director takes a third job

New Jersey’s new music director takes a third job


norman lebrecht

December 01, 2015

No sooner was Xian Zhang announced as music director of the New Jersey Symphony than she’s being paraded as principal guest conductor with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Xian, 42, is already chief conductor of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi in Milan, where she lives.

Sounds like she’s got an agent who just can’t say No.



The BBC are saying she is ‘the first woman to be appointed to lead one of the BBC’s orchestras’ and the Guardian has absurdly headlined this as ‘making conducting history’.

At this rate she’ll be the first Chinese woman conductor to burn out in the West.


  • Olassus says:

    Sounds like she’s got a backer who funds her salaries and makes things nice for the hiring entities. Call me a cynic.

  • Emil says:

    yes, how will she squeeze that in between her appointments as MD in NJ? Lacombe, who is in NJ at the end of December, the two last weeks in January, and late May, has barely any time off from that place! 😉

    She will definitely have to focus all her guest conducting in one place…oh wait.

  • Peter says:

    Why would an agent say no? It’s a couple more weeks you don’t have to sell every season in the conductor’s diary.
    Alternatively, perhaps it was the BBC who couldn’t say no. “Come on, you made a big thing about Marin Alsop, isn’t it about time you had a woman with a title at a BBC orchestra. And we’ll find you a couple of touring dates as well.”

  • Brian Hughes says:

    Gone are the days when a Music Director was on the job long enough to work with the players to create a distinctive sound (or whatever one calls it). Music Director? No. Hired Stick? Certainly.

    And, for the record, I’m not singling out Ms. Xian here. There are dozens of “guilty parties.”

  • Nick says:

    How many weeks does a Principal Guest Conductor devote to an orchestra? Four? Five? I don’t have details of the Wales commitment, but it will be far less than the number of weeks a Principal Conductor gives.

    Better surely to spend a few weeks with one orchestra than separate weeks with different orchestras perhaps involving a lot more travel?