BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales today announce that the conductor Xian Zhang has been appointed as Principal Guest Conductor, with effect from 1 September 2016 for an initial three year period.
Xian Zhang said: “I’m so excited to be working with BBC National Orchestra of Wales; they are a fantastic group of musicians who genuinely love making music, and are a natural team. They have some exceptional qualities that have really impressed me. The first thing we ever worked on together was Ravel’s Bolero, it was so precise, with the right colour and texture – I was really speechless after the first reading! Under the strong leadership of Lesley Hatfield, the musicians rehearse in such a disciplined manner that is not often seen. It’s a great pleasure to make music with them and I very much look forward to further developing our relationship in my new role with BBC NOW.”
Michael Garvey, Director, BBC NOW told The Herald: ‘“I am thrilled to be welcoming Xian Zhang to the BBC NOW family as Principal Guest Conductor –bringing yet another exceptional artist to work with us, continuing our commitment to artistic excellence across Wales and further afield. Our recent concerts with her, in Swansea and the BBC Proms, were so energised, balanced and refined; we knew that an appointment would be the perfect fit. We look forward to seeing her back in Cardiff in September.”
During Zhang’s three-year appointment, she will conduct the orchestra in annual concerts at BBC Hoddinott Hall, St David’s Hall and Brangwyn Hall, with repertoire featuring Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Rimsky Korsakov and Berlioz in her first season. BBC NOW will also perform at the BBC Proms under Zhang’s baton during her tenure and embark on an ‘On the road’ tour around Wales.
On Sept 27, 2016 Zhang conducts her inaugural concert at BBC Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff, with a programme featuring Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 4 and Barber’s Violin Concerto, with Chloë Hanslip as soloist. Further highlights of Zhang’s 2016-2017 season include a performance at a prominent welsh music festival and a collaboration with Chinese composer Qigang Chen.
Proms history was made when Marin Alsop became the first woman to conduct the world famous Last Night of the Proms in 2013, and there is a growing wealth of female conductors regularly performing at the BBC Proms and working with the BBC’s orchestras. Xian Zhang will be the first female conductor to have a titled role with a BBC orchestra when she becomes BBC NOW’s Principal Guest Conductor next year.
Rhodri Talfan Davies, Director, BBC Wales, commented: ‘“BBC NOW have had an incredible year, and to top it off we are now announcing this exciting appointment. I’m confident that alongside Principal Conductor Thomas Søndergård, and our dedicated musicians, Xian’s creative input will ensure many more memorable moments in the coming seasons.”
Alan Davey, Controller, BBC Radio 3 said: “Following her stunning performance at this year’s BBC Proms in July, I’m delighted we have booked Xian Zhang for BBC NOW. She is a talented conductor who can bring her passion to bear at an artistically exciting time for the orchestra. The BBC Performing groups are in rude health and their role in the BBC Radio 3 family is essential, where they form the backbone of our concert broadcasts. I’d like to welcome Xian Zhang, and look forward to hearing her first BBC NOW concerts with us.”
Born in Dandong, China, Xian Zhang made her professional debut conducting The Marriage of Figaro at the Central Opera House in Beijing at the age of 20. She trained at Beijing’s Central Conservatory, earning both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees 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 the first holder of the Arturo Toscanini Chair. Zhang has served as Music Director of the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi since September 2009 and has recently been announced as the next Music Director of New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
A regular conductor with the London Symphony and Royal Concertgebouw orchestras, Zhang’s recent highlights include her return to the BBC Proms with BBC NOW, as well as performances with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Gothenburg Symphony orchestras. This season, she debuts with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg and Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España, and she returns to the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic and Orchestre National de Belgique. Zhang continues to work frequently in North America; recent performances have included a week of Chinese New Year concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. This season’s operatic performances include a return to English National Opera for La bohème and her debut with Den Norske Opera conducting La traviata in January. Following Zhang’s hugely successful production of Nabucco with Welsh National Opera in June 2014, which subsequently transferred to the Savonlinna Festival, she returns to the festival in summer 2016 to conduct Otello, marking her debut with the opera company itself.
Zhang frequently returns to her native China, where she is a regular conductor with the China Philharmonic, Beijing Symphony and Guangzhou Symphony and is a champion for Chinese composers. Working with young talented musicians continues to play a major part in Zhang’s life. She has held the position of Artistic Director of the NJO, Dutch Orchestra and Ensemble Academy since 2011, and this summer, she made a hugely successful debut with the European Union Youth Orchestra, conducting them in Grafenegg, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rheingau and Bolzano.
Station Road: Off-licence refused alcohol licence
AN OFF-LICENCE on Llanelli’s Station Road has been refused an alcohol licence by Carmarthenshire County Council after councillors decided it could add to the area’s crime and disorder problems.
The Licensing Committee’s decision has been upheld after the applicant, who runs the shop Kubus, appealed to the courts.
The applicant, Aram Mahmood, had asked the council for permission to sell alcohol at his shop between 9am and 9pm Monday to Sunday.
However councillors felt that granting the licence would contravene the authority’s Cumulative Impact Policy, which creates a presumption against the granting of premises licences in the Station Road area, due to anti-social behaviour and alcohol-fuelled crime issues.
A Dyfed Powys Police representative said Station Road is still identified as a crime and disorder hot spot, and a Drinking in Public Places Order (DPPO) is in place.
During April 2017 and March 2018, 164 anti-social behaviour incidents were recorded in Station Road, over a quarter having occurred within licensed premises.
A fifth of all related crime and 13 per cent of all alcohol related anti-social behavior incidents recorded in Llanelli town occurred in Station Road.
Over 40 alcohol related violent crimes were also recorded there during the same period.
Although there are now fewer premises selling alcohol in Station Road, statistics show there is still a high level of alcohol related crime and disorder in the area.
The applicant told the committee that his main customers were families wishing to buy Polish and European foods and products.
He told councillors he had ordered a CCTV system and assured them that the management of alcohol would be well controlled by staff, though believed that his customers would not cause problems.
The licensing committee’s decision was upheld following the applicant’s appeal to Llanelli Magistrates Court.
Justices found that there was no evidence of exceptional reasons to justify departing from the Cumulative Impact Policy and were satisfied with the committee’s decision.
Cllr Kevin Madge elected as new county council Chairman
THE new chair of Carmarthenshire County Council said he will work tirelessly during his term of office.
Cllr Kevin Madge, member for Garnant, takes the chain of office whilst celebrating 40 years as a councillor.
Taking the chair, Cllr Madge paid tribute to outgoing chairman Cllr Mansel Charles, member for Llanegwad, saying he had fulfilled his duties with passion.
Cllr Madge will chair the council for the next 12 months, with Cllr Ieuan Davies, member for Llanybydder, as his vice chair, and his wife Catrin as his consort.
“I’m very much looking forward to the year ahead, I will do my best for everyone. I will work tirelessly,” he said.
Cllr Madge has chosen the Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of food banks and emergency food provision for people in crisis, as his Chairman’s Charity of the Year.
The Chair is the first citizen of Carmarthenshire County Council, and is elected at the Annual General Meeting.
Duties include chairing full meetings of the council, representing the council at formal and ceremonial occasions, welcoming visitors to the county, and attending and supporting events organised by local people and organisations.
Cllr Madge has been a county councillor since 1996, and a member of Cwmaman Town Council since 1979.
He also serves as chairman of the Royal British Legion Garnant branch, Garnant Family Centre and Cwmaman Meals on Wheels, and is a member of Amman Valley League of Friends.
He represents the county council on the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, and the Mynydd y Betws Wind Farm Community Fund, and is on the governing body of Ysgol Y Bedol.
A former pupil of Amman Valley School, Cllr Madge has worked in the Amman Valley throughout his life, most recently as agent and researcher to Dr Alan Williams MP until 2001.
A keen football supporter, he has served as chair and president of Cwmaman Football Club and spent 25 years as a Welsh League and Neath and District football referee.
He is married with two children and three grandchildren.
‘UK Government should work with the Welsh Labour Government on Tata’
LOCAL Assembly Member Lee Waters and Nia Griffith MP have called on the UK Government to work with the Welsh Labour Government to come up with a deal to protect steel making at Trostre, and across Wales and the UK.
Lee Waters AM met with representatives from Tata Steel on Wednesday to discuss the future for steel making at the plant following the reported collapse of the proposed joint venture with Thyssenkrupp.
During the meeting he stressed the need to protect the entire steel supply chain in Wales, including the high quality jobs at Trostre, and those that depend on its presence in Llanelli.
Lee Waters AM said “It’s clear that the support Welsh Government provided during the crisis of 2016 has been critical in getting extra investment into Port Talbot which will secure the works for years to come. However, Tata is a company run from India, and we simply don’t know what the board will decide about its future strategy. They may well be looking for a new joint venture partner, so we’ll have to vigilant about the implications for our local plants.”
“Tata has said it intends to continue with its existing business plan, and honor commitments made to the Trade Unions, so Nia and I will be keeping a close eye to make sure that happens.”
Welsh Government has been in active discussions with Tata steel following the collapse of the merger with Thyssenkrupp. In a written statement and during questions on Wednesday, the Welsh Government committed to invest in Welsh steel to protect its future and is looking at a range of measures to assist on energy costs, business rates and procurement of steel for public sector contracts.
Lee Waters AM said “The Welsh Government have given significant support to the steel industry here but it can’t do everything, and we now need the UK Government to work with them to ensure a future for skilled work in the steel industry in Llanelli and elsewhere in Wales.”
Nia Griffith AM said ““This latest news from Tata means yet more uncertainty for steelworkers. Their announcement about keeping Port Talbot is a start, but now we need real commitment from Tata on Trostre.
“We also need close cooperation from the company with the Trade Unions. Lee Waters AM and I will be urging the UK Government to follow Welsh Government in doing everything possible to secure the future of our steel industry.”
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