What Xian Zhang brings to her role as New Jersey Symphony’s music director

Posted on: December 17, 2019

“In her last concert of the 2019 calendar year with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Maestra Xian Zhang showcased precisely why her presence at the podium is becoming a big deal,” writes James C. Taylor in Friday’s (12/13) Associated Press. “Sunday afternoon’s program … began with … the NJSO premiere of a 2009 piece by composer Anna Clyne…. By making [recent] compositions (and exciting ones at that) such a part of her and the orchestra’s identity, it makes Zhang’s concerts stand out…. Clyne’s ‘Within Her Arms’ was a revelation…. An elegy of sorts for Clyne’s mother … it has a clean openness that makes the pain that the piece expresses feel graceful, not clenched….. The second reason Zhang is a big deal on the podium was on display in the second piece on the program: Rachmaninov’s treacherous Third Piano Concerto [with] soloist George Li … a 24-year-old phenom. Zhang knows talent and she manages get it to New Jersey…. The intense fog of music that Zhang and the orchestra created was overwhelming…. After intermission, Zhang marshaled the NJSO through thoroughly fine performance of Dvořák’s Eighth Symphony. The melodies were clear and the horns, especially the trumpets, were at their clarion best.”

In photo: Xian Zhang conducts the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra