Zheng Xiaoying is the leading woman conductor in China. She was the head of the conducting department at the Central Conservatory in Beijing, as well as chief conductor at the Beijing Central Opera. Her early training at Ginling College in Nanjing was as a pianist, followed, in 1948, by appointment as conductor, composer and collector of folk music with an official Song and Dance Troupe. By 1952 she began to concentrate on her work as a conductor.
In the 1960s Zheng Xiaoying studied in Moscow, where she was able to conduct major Russian orchestras. In 1978, she was appointed principal conductor at the Central Opera, directing performances of standard Western repertoire, including La Traviata, La Bohème, Carmen and The Marriage of Figaro, as well as recently composed Chinese operas.