Equally adept at conducting symphony, opera, and ballet, Judith Yan's career has taken her internationally, conducting for major companies in Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America. She has held Staff Conductor positions at San Francisco Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and National Ballet of Canada.
Her recent debuts were celebrated with critical acclaim: “In her Vancouver Opera debut, Canadian Conductor Judith Yan really shone in the pit, bringing extraordinarily lyrical and expressive playing from the Vancouver Opera Orchestra.” (Opera Canada 2018). “Under the direction of Canadian conductor Judith Yan, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra is simply wonderful.” (Greg Ross, 2018) “Judith Yan, her Seattle Opera debut, conducted the orchestra with vigour and deep sympathy for the score.” (Classical Voice America, 2017). “The Edmonton Symphony played splendidly under Judith Yan...coaxed many vivid, dramatically transparent moments from the players.” (Opera Canada 2019)
While with the San Francisco Opera, she served as Staff Conductor, assistant to Maestro Sir Donald Runnicles, where her performances of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress for San Francisco Opera was included in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Top Ten Classical Performances of the Year. Prior to San Francisco Opera, she served as the first Conductor-in-Residence of the Canadian Opera Company, where she made her debut with Britten's Rape of Lucretia. As the Principal Conductor of Opera on the Avalon since 2010, she has lead numerous productions including Ours, Shawnadithit, Tosca, La Boheme, Tosca, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi, La Traviata, Albert Herring, and Dead Man Walking.
As a conductor of symphony, she served as the Artistic Director of Guelph Symphony Orchestra for 8 seasons, where she expanded the orchestra’s symphonic and operatic repertoire with works by composers Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Philip Glass, Francis Poulenc, Leonard Bernstein. Along with new works and premieres, she added operatic repertoire by Puccini, Verdi, Strauss, Humperdinck, and created the unique Triple-Feature “Symphony, Opera, and Ballet” Gala. As a guest conductor, she has collaborated with orchestras such as Auckland Philharmonia in New Zealand, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and Saskatoon Symphony.
As a conductor of ballet, she has conducted over 90 performances at the Four Season’s Centre for the National Ballet of Canada, working with the world’s foremost choreographers including John Neumeier, Ronald Hynd, and James Kuldelka. With National Ballet of Canada and as a guest internationally, she has conducted the ballets of Balanchine, Cranko, Aldous, Bart, Harvey, Kiliàn, Lander, Stowell, Wright, and Grigorovich. Since 2010, she has had a close association with several ballet companies, including Hong Kong Ballet, conducting the company’s production of Swan Lake as well as premiering four of the company’s productions: Cynthia Harvey’s Sleeping Beauty, Terence Kohler’s The Nutcracker, Nina Ananiashvili’s Don Quixote, and the Asian world-premiere of Anna-Marie Holme’s Le Corsaire. She conducted the Polish premiere of Cranko's The Taming of the Shrew in 2015 for Polish National Ballet, at Teatr Wielki in Warsaw.
In 2014, she made her Seoul conducting debut with Korean National Ballet, conducting the Korean Symphony in Yury Grigorovich’s La Bayadère, returning in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019 to conduct Patrice Bart’s Giselle, Grigorovich’s Swan Lake, and a revival of La Bayadère. She made her Australian conducting debut in 2017 with West Australian Ballet, conducting the West Australian Symphony Orchestra in Lucette Aldous’s Don Quixote, returning in 2018 for the world-premiere of Krzysztof Pastor’s Dracula and 2019 for Greg Horsman's La Bayadère.
Recent performances include 3 critically acclaimed world-premieres: Jack Perla’s An American Dream for Seattle Opera and John Estacio’s Ours for Opera on the Avalon, Krzysztof Pastor’s Dracula for West Australian Ballet, company debuts with National Arts Centre Orchestra for Cynthia Harvey’s Sleeping Beauty, Teatr Wielki in Warsaw for Cranko’s The Taming of the Shrew, West Australian Ballet and West Australian Symphony for Lucette Aldous’s Don Quixote, and Yury Grigorovich’s La Bayadère for Korean National Ballet and Korean Symphony.
2018/19 season included Vancouver Opera for La Boheme and Edmonton Opera for La Traviata, the season-opening gala concert for the Elora Festival, a revival of the opera Ours at Opera on the Avalon, Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 and Beethoven’s Mass in C with Guelph Symphony Orchestra, productions of Greg Horsman’s La Bayadère and the world-première of Krzysztof Pastor’s Dracula for West Australian Ballet.
For 2019/20, she opened both Korean National Ballet’s season with Yury Grigorovich’s Swan Lake, and Edmonton Opera’s with Verdi’s Rigoletto, Sleeping Beauty with West Australian Ballet, and concerts with Guelph Symphony Orchestra.
2020/21 includes a return to Hong Kong Ballet with Don Quixote, a debut with Saskatoon Symphony in programme of Sibelius, Copland, and Bernstein, and the Canadian premiere of Powder Her Face by Thomas Adés with Opera on the Avalon. 2021/22 includes an outdoor concert with Opera on the Avalon and Newfoundland Symphony, Heggie's Three Decembers with Opera on the Avalon, a debut with Kentucky Opera with Orfeo, and a return to Saskatoon Symphony with a programme of Tchaikovsky.
Judith is fluent in English and Cantonese. She is an American Resident, eligible to work in USA, Hong Kong, and Canada.
Photograph by David Howells