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"The sounds that came forth from Cottis and the orchestra were charged and hallucinogenic."

"Cottis’ thrilling account of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino, a terrifying explosion of power."

"With authority and the clarity of sunlight, she

lifted the orchestra to immense heights."


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, 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 such as London Sinfonietta and Bang on a Can, as well as numerous re-invitations at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and the prestigious BBC Proms. She has recorded for the BBC, ABC, and Decca Classics labels.

One of the most outstanding Australian conductors working today, 2022 marks Jessica Cottis’s second season as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. Under her leadership, the orchestra has already developed a number of important new initiatives, including significant commissions and championing of Australian works. Recognised for her engaging, wide-ranging and thought-provoking programming, Cottis' domain is music of the 19th to 21st centuries. This season she will conduct major works by Wagner, Sibelius and Stravinsky in Canberra, and make highly anticipated debuts with orchestras including Bremer Philharmoniker, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, Opéra National de Bordeaux, Oslo Philharmonic, and Royal Danish Opera for Poul Ruders' 'The Handmaid's Tale', and return to the Royal Opera House for the world premiere of Laura Bowler’s ‘The Blue Woman’.

Jessica Cottis grew up on her family’s sheep farm in south-eastern Australia and quickly developed a lifelong interest in both music and the natural world. She is especially interested in the relation between music, nature and science, and the act of listening. She works widely as an advocate for classical music. A gifted communicator described as a “cool, contained, super-articulate and engaging” (The Scotsman), she has given masterclasses for the Royal Philharmonic Society and Royal Academy of Music, and has led courses for emerging women conductors for the Royal Opera House. She sits on the Board of new music organisation and record label Nonclassical, and is Chair of the Music Board of the Tait Memorial Trust for Young Australians, a body that supports young Australian and New Zealand performing artists studying in the UK. 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.

Jessica Cottis’ early musical career was as an organist, pianist, and trumpeter. Awarded first class honours at the Australian National University, she continued her studies in Paris with pioneering French organist Marie-Claire Alain. After a wrist injury halted her playing career, she began conducting studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London, studying with 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, where she worked closely with mentors Sir Donald Runnicles and Vladimir Ashkenazy. More recently she was honoured with the title of Associate of the Royal Academy (ARAM), an honorary award for formers students who have made a significant contribution to the music profession.


Jessica Cottis has undertaken Executive Leadership studies at Cornell University and Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.


She resides in Stockholm and London, and outside of music pursues her passion for butterflies all over the world.

Photo © Kaupo Kikkas

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