Xian Zhang to Receive Honorary Doctorate from Juilliard

28 Apr 2023

Juilliard has announced that they will confer an Honorary Doctorate to conductor Xian Zhang at their 2023 commencement ceremony. The ceremony will take place on 19 May at New York’s Alice Tully Hall, presided over by Juilliard President Damian Woetzel and Vincent Mai, chair of the board of trustees.

President Woetzel said, “We celebrate these artistic leaders for their extraordinary careers and for what they model and represent to our students as they take their next steps toward professional lives. These five luminaries, including two Juilliard alumni, embody the excellence we aim to cultivate in our students–excellence rooted in creativity, inclusivity, and artistic citizenship. These honorary doctorate recipients have left an indelible mark on their respective fields, and we look forward to honoring their achievements at our ceremony on May 19.”

Grammy®-winning conductor Xian Zhang is in the seventh season of her tenure as music director of the New Jersey Symphony. She is the first woman conductor to be named music director of the NJSO. Zhang also holds the positions of principal guest conductor of Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and conductor emeritus of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano, where she was the first woman to be named music director of an Italian symphony orchestra. As a guest conductor, she has worked with international orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony’s Tanglewood Festival, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestra of St Luke’s, Detroit Symphony, Mostly Mozart Festival, Montreal Symphony, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, London Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France. In 2015, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW) announced Zhang’s appointment as its next principal guest conductor, effective with the 2016–17 season, making Zhang the first woman conductor named to a titled post with any BBC orchestra. Next season, Zhang will conduct Madama Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera. Zhang first appeared with the Juilliard Orchestra in 2008 on the orchestra’s 10-day tour in China. She returned in 2010 to lead the orchestra and, in November 2020, Zhang was one of the first conductors to lead members of the orchestra in recorded performances in Juilliard’s orchestral studios, with ensemble players socially distanced and masked. In October 2021, Zhang was one of the first conductors to bring the Juilliard Orchestra back to in-person audiences.