China: Xiaoying Zheng

I wish to present wonderful music and peaceful life to the public and popularize exquisite classical music to the best of my ability.

— Xiaoying Zheng

Zheng Xiaoying rebuilt the Central Opera Theater's orchestra from ruin after the Cultural Revolution. She initiated the Music-Loving Women’s Orchestra, set up the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra and has contributed valuably to promoting the popularization of classical music in China.

Zheng Xiaoying (75) is China's first female opera and symphony orchestra conductor and the first Chinese orchestra conductor to take the international opera stage. She rebuilt the Central Opera Theater's orchestra after China's Cultural Revolution. She has often been invited to give performances on important occasions in the country, and has conducted more than 20 Chinese and foreign operas. Articles on her and her achievements often appear in the media. Zheng has traveled abroad over 30 times to conduct operas or to give lectures. She is the first Chinese conductor that has been invited to conduct well-known operas overseas. Her achievements on the international stage have changed preconceptions or prejudices about Chinese or oriental women. Since 1978 she has used various means to popularize Chinese and Western classical music. Her direct audience is over 300,000. Come wind or rain, she always reaches the theater one hour before a performance and gives a 20-minute lecture on music knowledge and the theme of the opera music to be performed. Performance is blended with lectures, and this is known as the Zheng Xiaoying Mode. Over a period of six years in the late 1980s, Zheng led the volunteer group Music-Loving Women’s Orchestra to present over 200 performances in schools and factories, which were well received by the public. At the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, she conducted the group's performance of Beethoven's Ode to Joy before tens of thousands of women representatives from all over the world. In 1998, Zheng founded China's first philharmonic orchestra, which is non-government run, the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra. It has become the city's pride. Zheng has made a great contribution to enhancing people's cultural life and the development of orchestras in China.

China's Central Opera Theater