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Named as Classical Music’s ‘Face to Watch’ for The Times (UK) in 2019, the award-winning conductor Jessica Cottis is in high demand worldwide, with highlights of recent seasons including concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Danish Radio Symphony, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Singapore Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa, and Sydney Symphony, as well as at the prestigious BBC Proms and Prague Spring Festival, and recording for Decca Classics.
Recognised for her engaging, wide-ranging and thought-provoking programming, her domain is the music of the late 19th to 21st centuries. She continues her collaboration with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where after highly successful premieres of new opera by Gavin Higgins (The Monstrous Child, 2019) and Na’ama Zisser (Mamzer, 2017), she returns to conduct Gerald Barry’s virtuoso first opera The Intelligence Park, in association with Music Theatre Wales.
A gifted communicator, she works widely as an advocate for classical music. Described as a “cool, contained, super-articulate and engaging” in The Scotsman, she has filmed projects for the ABC and BBC, and is a frequent contributor on BBC radio and television programmes, commenting on a wide range of topics, from gender politics to opera to architecture, synaesthesia, and acoustics.
One of the most outstanding Australian conductors working today, she maintains a strong commitment to Australian music. Most recently, with composer Matthew Hindson AM she co-curated the Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s Australian Miniseries, a significant new commissioning series of works by Australian composers including Liza Lim, Christopher Sainsbury, Deborah Cheetham, Holly Harrison, and Ross Edwards.
Cottis’ early musical career was as an organist. Her formative education took place at the Australian National University where she was awarded first class honours, and later in Paris, with pioneering French organist Marie-Claire Alain. After a wrist injury halted her playing career, she began conducting under the guidance of Prof Colin Matters and Sir Colin Davis at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She was awarded the Academy’s top conducting prizes upon graduation in 2009 and appointed Manson Fellow in Composition. Her early talent was further supported by, among others, mentors Donald Runnicles, Charles Dutoit, and Vladimir Ashkenazy whilst working as Assistant Conductor at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Sydney Symphony. In 2015 she was made an Associate of the Royal Academy.
She resides in London, and outside of music is an avid lepidopterist.
Jessica Cottis is Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra.