"a mesmerising presence as a conductor"
"cool, contained, super-articulate and engaging"
The “gifted” (The Times) Australian-born conductor Jessica Cottis has captured international attention for her intellect, innate musicality and easy authority. Hailed as “one to watch”, she is a charismatic figure on the podium who brings dynamism, intensity and clarity of vision to all her performances.
Jessica Cottis made her BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall in 2016, returning in 2017 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. She returns to the Proms again this summer, and this season makes important debuts with the LA Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony, and English Chamber Orchestra. Cottis will also return twice to the Royal Opera House: to conduct the premiere of 'The Monstrous Child' by Gavin Higgins; and again for a new production by Gerald Barry for their 2019/2020 season.
Frequently in demand as guest conductor, highlights of recent seasons include performances with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Concert Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya, l’Orchestra Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra, Gävle Symfoniorkester, Malmö Symfoniorkester, Bit20 Ensemble Bergen, Malaysian Philharmonic, Orchestra of Opera North, Scottish Opera, and recording with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Recently Cottis recorded with saxophonist Jess Gillam, for the Decca Classics label.
Jessica Cottis has also recently conducted a string of exceptionally well-received ‘Film with Live Orchestra’ productions, with performances of ET, Jurassic Park, Casino Royale, The Addams Family, Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and Disney’s Fantasia.
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 Royal Academy’s top conducting prizes and graduated with Distinction in July 2009.
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”.
A gifted communicator, 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, Aldeburgh Young Musicians, and Sistema Europe, and led courses for female conductors with London’s Royal Philharmonic Society. In recent years, she has become a frequent contributor to BBC radio programmes, including Women’s Hour, the Today programme, World Service; and for BBC television: 'Proms Extra' and ‘Maestro at the Opera’. She works widely as an advocate for classical music.
She has been a jury member for BASCA, European Composer and Songwriter Alliance, Royal Philharmonic Society Awards, PRS for Music Foundation, Scottish Awards for New Music, Australian Music Centre, and the BBC Young Musician Competition. She is Chair of the Music Board of the Tait Memorial Trust for Young Australians, a body that oversees the funding of young performing artists from Australia and New Zealand.
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. She is an avid lepidopterist, and in her spare time is learning to fly helicopters.
Photo © Gerard Collett