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RWCMD Welcomes Maestro Xu Zhong as Inaugural International Chair in Opera

10 June 2021

The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama is honoured to welcome Maestro Xu Zhong, Conductor, Musician, Opera Producer and Educator as its inaugural International Chair in Opera representing Asia.

One of the most internationally renowned Chinese pianists and conductors, Xu Zhong is currently President of Shanghai Opera House, Principal Director of Fondazione Arena di Verona, Chief Conductor of Suzhou Symphony Orchestra, and Dean of Soochow University School of Music. He has worked as the Artistic Director and the Chief Conductor of Teatro Massimo Bellini and as the Music Director and the Chief Conductor of Israel Haifa Symphony Orchestra. He has just been announced as the external expert observer of BBC’s Cardiff Singer of the World 2021.

This appointment allows the College to benefit from Xu Zhong’s knowledge, insight and artistry, enhancing the collaboration between music and drama across performance and production and supporting the development of opera as an increasingly global art form. Alongside this it will support RWCMD’s journey towards diversity and further the relationship between Wales and China, Europe and the rest of the world.

It brings him into a group of RWCMD International Chairs that includes Maestro Carlo Rizzi, Matthew Rhys, Pamela Howard and Michael Sheen and will further develop the impact made by the International Chairs on both the experience of the students and the national and international profile of the College.

‘It is a huge honour to continue our warm and productive relationship with Maestro Xu and welcome him now as our first International Chair in Opera, representing both his roots in Asia and the wider world through his international work,’ said Professor Helena Gaunt, Principal RWCMD.

‘As an outstanding musician and impresario his expertise is the perfect fit for our spirit of excellence. He brings extraordinary industry knowledge and creativity and will help us to further diversify in the field of opera. He will also act as a mentor for the new generation of performers, designers and technicians who train here.’

‘I look forward to working together on our international opera and music collaborations, and to spending time in China with Maestro as a jury member of the Suzhou Jinji Lake International Piano Competition in the near future.’

Xu Zhong said, ‘I am very honoured and thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with RWCMD.

The College has an exceptional vision for creative excellence through international collaboration and is uniquely positioned to offer a world-class training environment which covers the full spectrum of creative disciplines in music and drama, and in particular opera, including directing, designing and producing.

I will help RWCMD nurture singers and performers in opera and drama in collaboration with the David Seligman Opera School’s Artistic Director John Fisher and Cardiff Singer of the World’s David Jackson as well as production talent for the future.‘

Xu Zhong’s International Chair tenureship will support the College in exploring and extending its international collaboration and student recruitment and creating more opportunities for students from the West to connect with China and the rest of the world through masterclasses, performances, competitions and internships in arts organisation.

For example this month RWCMD vocal students will have an exclusive opportunity to join masterclasses with Xu Zhong during Cardiff Singer of the World (CSOW).

Collaborating with the College and CSOW, Xu Zhong will also produce a special gala concert project which will include a strong educational element, to be taken to leading arts venues such as the Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, Shanghai Grand Theatre/Shanghai Concert Hall, Jiangsu Grand Theatre, Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre as well as Fujian Song and Dance Theatre.

In 2022 he will work with Shanghai Opera House and the Royal Opera House on a co-production of Rigoletto, offering selected RWCMD students masterclasses, lectures and shadowing and placement opportunities in Shanghai.

Click here for more details on the David Seligman Opera School.

Photos of Xu Zhong. Credit Shu Xiaoning

Editors Notes

Maestro Xu Zhong Conductor/Pianist

Xu Zhong is both a distinguished musician and an expert in arts management and education and has made significant contributions to the prosperity of art and the promotion of cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries.

He has won numerous prestigious international competitions, performed as a soloist at the most prestigious music festivals and regularly appears as a jury member at renowned international piano competitions. He has also worked with numerous prestigious orchestras and conducted at leading opera houses in Europe and across the world.

As an impassioned educator Xu Zhong’s administrative work is imbued with the same passion he brings to the stage and in 2010 he was awarded the Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and was promoted as the Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2018 by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication for his contributions in classic music and cultural exchange.

In 2021 he will produce and conduct Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana/Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, and lead this production of the Shanghai Opera House for a national tour.
For a full biography go to:

The David Seligman Opera School

Established in 2017, the David Seligman Opera School at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama offers a fully integrated operatic training experience.
Building on the College’s remarkable track record in the field of opera, and in association with Welsh National Opera (WNO), the Opera School provides enhanced opportunities for students to work with, and learn from, leading international artists and practitioners. In addition to specialist programmes of study for singers, directors and repetiteurs, the Opera School creates new opportunities for instrumental performers, conductors, stage managers, designers and composers to work together in a unique and world-class training environment.
The David Seligman Opera School provides a unique training environment in which the concept of ‘company’ is at the centre of the working ethos. The combined, extensive operatic experience of our specialist teachers brings a clear perspective on the demands and requirements of the industry. Their mentoring is complemented by input from a wide range of visiting artists, singers, coaches and opera company professionals.


The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, the National Conservatoire of Wales, and part of the University of South Wales Group, operates within its international peer group of conservatoires and specialist arts colleges. It trains young artists drawn from 50 countries to provide a constant flow of emerging talent into the music and theatre industries and related professions. In 2020 the College became the first ‘Steinway-Exclusive Conservatoire’ in Europe, building on its All-Steinway status and taking delivery of a further 24 Steinways to create a world-leading Steinway fleet of pianos.




Photos: credit