Biographies - 5.12.2022

Jessica Cottis

Image Credit: Kaupo Kikkas

Award-winning conductor Jessica Cottis, named ‘2019 Classical “Face to Watch”’ (The Times, UK), is much in demand, working regularly with leading orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, Opéra Orchestre national Montpellier, L’Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi (laVerdi), l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo; new music ensembles including London Sinfonietta and Bang on a Can; and has enjoyed numerous re-invitations at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and the BBC Proms. She has recorded for the BBC, ABC, and Decca Classics labels.

One of the most outstanding Australian conductors working today, Jessica Cottis is Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, with whom she has pioneered several initiatives, including significant commissions and the championing of Australian works. Recognised for her engaging, wide-ranging and thought-provoking programming, Cottis' domain is music of the 19th to 21st centuries; in the 22/23 season she will present two world premieres, the first by Leah Curtis and the second Kinds of Blue by Miriama Young. She will also conduct Sibelius’ Violin Concerto, Scriabin’s Piano Concerto No. 3, Stravinsky’s Petrushka and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

Cottis’ early musical career was as an organist. Awarded first class honours at the Australian National University, she continued her studies in Paris with pioneering French organist Marie-Claire Alain, before commencing conducting studies at London’s Royal Academy of Music under Colin Metters and Sir Colin Davis. She went on to serve as Assistant Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and at the Sydney Symphony Orchestra alongside mentors Sir Donald Runnicles, Charles Dutoit, and Vladimir Ashkenazy. More recently she was honoured with the titles of Associate of the Royal Academy, and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the School of Music, Australian National University.

A gifted communicator, Cottis works widely as an advocate for classical music. Described as a “cool, contained, super-articulate and engaging” (The Scotsman), she is a frequent contributor on BBC radio and television, commenting on a wide range of arts-related topics, from opera to architecture, synaesthesia, the environment, and acoustics. Cottis now resides in London, and outside of music pursues her passion for butterflies all over the world.