Jessica Cottis, Conductor
Hailed in the UK music press as “one to watch”, Jessica Cottis possesses intellectual rigour, innate musicality and an easy authority; she is a charismatic figure on the podium who brings dynamism, intensity and clarity of vision to all her performances.
Frequently in demand as guest conductor, highlights of recent seasons include performances with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Concert Orchestra, L’Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi (laVerdi), l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and recording with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
The 2017-18 season marks a return – after the success of her debut in 2016 – to the prestigious BBC Proms in July, as well as debuts with London Symphony Orchestra, Malmö Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Malaysian Philharmonic among others.
In forthcoming seasons, Jessica will perform in her Los Angeles Philharmonic debut, as well as revisiting the City of London Sinfonia, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, laVerdi in Milan, and the OBC in Barcelona. She will return to work for the Royal Opera House in London again, conducting the premieres of two significant new opera commissions.
Jessica Cottis will continue her string of exceptionally well-received ‘Film with Live Orchestra’ productions, with productions of ET, Jurassic Park, Jaws, Casino Royale, Hitchcock’s Vertigo, Disney’s Fantasia, and The Addams Family.
Her international career was launched through close working relationships with mentors including Vladimir Ashkenazy and Donald Runnicles. From 2009 to 2011 she was Assistant Conductor at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Fellow in Conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and from 2012 to 2014 Assistant Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra where she conducted over thirty concerts per year with the orchestra, being lauded in the Australian press as “one of the big hopes for change”.
Born in Australia and a dual British-Australian citizen, Jessica Cottis was awarded a first class honours degree in organ, piano and musicology from the Australian National University and continued her studies as an organist with Marie-Claire Alain in Paris, winning awards from the Royal Philharmonic Society and Royal College of Organists. A wrist injury subsequently halted her playing career and, after reading Law, she began conducting studies in 2006, studying with Colin Metters and Sir Colin Davis on the postgraduate conducting course at the Royal Academy of Music. Cottis was awarded the Academy’s top conducting prizes upon graduation in July 2009, the same month she was appointed to her positions at the BBC SSO and RCS, and also Manson Fellow in Composition at the Royal Academy of Music.
A gifted communicator, Jessica Cottis is already acting as an inspiration to the younger generation. She has filmed projects for Play School (ABC Australia), CBeebies (BBC) and the Royal Opera House, has conducted projects with organisations such as the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and Sistema Scotland, and led courses for female conductors with London’s Royal Philharmonic Society.
In recent years, she has become a frequent contributor to BBC radio and television programmes. She taught Dame Jenni Murray the basics of conducting for a BBC Woman’s Hour special, and returned to the programme to speak about Verdi’s heroines. She has commented on issues faced by women in music for the World Service and the Today Programme, and contributed to programmes on architecture and acoustics. In 2012, Jessica Cottis appeared on the BBC2 series ‘Maestro at the Opera’ as conducting mentor to DJ Trevor Nelson.
In 2014 Jessica Cottis took up the position of Principal Conductor of the Glasgow New Music Expedition, and in 2015 was appointed Associate Member of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM), an honorary award for former students who have made a significant contribution to the music profession.
Jessica Cottis makes her home in South London and spends her free time taking helicopter-flying lessons.