'Judith Yan is currently the Artistic Director of Guelph Symphony Orchestra and the Music Director and Principal Conductor of Opera on the Avalon. She has been a Staff Conductor for the San Francisco Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, and the National Ballet of Canada. Equally adept at conducting opera, ballet, and symphony, she has conducted for companies in Germany, Italy, New Zealand Hong Kong, the United States, and Canada.
Her 2006 debut with the National Ballet of Canada led to the subsequent invitation to conduct over 90 performances for the company, working with the world's leading choreographers and ballet masters of today. For the National Ballet of Canada, she has conducted Sir Peter Wright's Giselle (Adam), John Neumeier's The Seagull (Shostakovich), John Cranko's The Taming of the Shrew (Stolze) and Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev), Balanchine's Symphony in C (Bizet) and Don Quixote (Nabokov), James Kudelka's Cinderella (Prokofiev), The Italian Straw Hat (Torke) and The Nutcracker (Tchaikovsky), Ronald Hynd's The Merry Widow (Lehar), Jerome Robbin's Glass Pieces (Glass) and West Side Story (Bernstein), Jirí Kylián's Soldier's Mass (Martinu), Harald Lander's Etudes (Riisager/Czerny), and the world premiere of Peter Quanz's Symphony in Colour (Lubchenko).
Prior to her work with the National Ballet of Canada, Judith served as the Staff Conductor of the San Francisco Opera, assistant to Maestro Donald Runnicles. While with the San Francisco Opera she conducted the 2005 Merola production of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, garnering critical acclaim. Critic Joshua Kosman, in his review for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote: "the evening's principal hero was conductor Judith Yan, who led this daunting score with astonishing precision and fluency. She never downplayed or regularized the score's sharp edges, but she made them sound natural and even commonsensical, like poetry recited in the speaker's own language". The performances were later included in the San Francisco Chronicle's list of Top Ten Classical Performances of 2005.
Along with The Rake's Progress, she conducted the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize winning composer Lewis Spratlin's Earthrise, an opera commissioned by the San Francisco Opera, and made her company debut in 2002 with Mozart's La Finta Giardiniera. As a member of the San Francisco Opera music staff, she served as the cover and rehearsal conductor for productions of La Damnation de Faust, Otello, Falstaff, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Hänsel und Gretel, Samson et Dalila and Giulio Cesare, and assisted on productions of St. Francois d'Assise, Jenufa, Alcina and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
While in San Francisco, Judith met acclaimed American composer Jake Heggie, which led to her participation in the Houston Grand Opera's workshop of The End of the Affair. She also conducted San Francisco Conservatory ‘s 2006 production of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro in a performance described as in San Francisco Classical voice as "both passionate and precise, (creating) wonders from the Conservatory orchestra, with long passages of exceptional playing."
Prior to her appointment at the San Francisco Opera she served as the Canadian Opera Company's Conductor-in-Residence, a position created for her by then General Director, the late Richard Bradshaw. For the Canadian Opera Company, she conducted in the Altamira-sponsored outdoor concerts, a workshop production of Alexina Louie's The Scarlet Princess, and Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia. Critic Peter Dyson, in his review for UK's Opera Magazine wrote: "The chamber orchestra, under Judith Yan's energetic conducting, skillfully projected the score's rhythmic variety...its striking harmonic shifts, always allied to and furthering the action on stage."
While at the COC, she served as Rehearsal and Cover Conductor for productions of Xerses, Don Giovanni, Idomeneo, Il barbiere di Sivilglia, La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Die verkaufte Braut, and Pel!éas et Mélisande. During her tenure with the Canadian Opera Company, she collaborated with members of Stratford Festival, Ballet Jorgen and the Toronto Symphony on a program of Prokofiev, Bernstein and Gounod in the Romeo and Juliet MODD project.
In 2005, she made her German conducting debut in productions of La Cenerentola and Idomeneo with Ulmer Oper in Germany. In 2007 she made her Italian debut in Sulmona, Italy with COSI Festival's Le Nozze di Figaro. She returned to Italy in 2008 to conduct La Boheme and an opera gala concert.
2009/2010 season marked Judith's debut with Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, Washington, and her first year as Principal Conductor for Opera on the Avalon, a summer opera festival in St. John's, Newfoundland. Also in this season were performances with the National Ballet of Canada, which included the world premiere of Peter Quanz's In Colour (Lubchenko), John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev), Sir Peter Wright's Giselle, and James Kuldelka's The Nutcracker, and a program of Prokofiev with Guelph Symphony Orchestra.
The 2010/2011 season included a recording of Impermanence by composer Guillaume Cote, the soundtrack for a new ballet created and choreographed by Principal Dancers Guillaume Cote and Zdenek Konvalina, which premiered at the 2010 Il Maggio Musicale in Florence, Italy. Also in this season was a return to Seattle for an all-Balanchine program with Pacific Northwest Ballet, a Hong Kong conducting debut with performances and recording of The Sleeping Beauty with Hong Kong Ballet and Hong Kong Sinfonietta, a recital for the Muir Land Trust in Lafayette, California, and Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera on the Avalon, and Brahms Symphony No. 4 with Guelph Symphony.
2011/2012 season included a New Zealand debut with Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a debut with The Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Puccini's Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi, plus Mozart's Requiem, with Opera on the Avalon, a debut with Stratford Symphony Orchestra, a return to Hong Kong Ballet for Swan Lake, and her first season as the Artistic Director of Guelph Symphony Orchestra.
2012/2013 season includes a new production and recording of The Nutcracker for the Hong Kong Ballet, concerts with Guelph Symphony Orchestra, where she commences her second season as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, a debut with Mississauga Symphony with the music of Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky, a return to Stratford Symphony with the music of Mozart, and Beethoven's 9th Symphony and La Traviata with Opera on the Avalon, where she returns her 3rd season as Music Director and Principal Conductor.