Jessica Cottis

Last updated: February 6, 2024

Conductor Jessica Cottis has earned widespread recognition for her inventive, thought-provoking programming and inspiring musical leadership. A gifted communicator described as “cool, contained, super-articulate, and engaging” (The Scotsman), she is in high demand from orchestras and audiences around the world. Recent highlights include engagements with the London Symphony Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, as well as numerous re-invitations to the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden and the BBC Proms.

Artistic Partner of the Västerås Sinfonietta in Sweden, Jessica Cottis also continues her fourth season as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra (CSO). Under her visionary leadership, the CSO has pioneered several important initiatives, including a significant commissioning output, collaborations with Indigenous creators, and championing Australian composers. 

Cottis’s domain is music of the 19th to 21st centuries. Her interpretations of the great Romantic repertoire have consistently received high praise: “with absolutely the right temperament for Brahms and a fine technique, Jessica Cottis took care of every note. With authority and the clarity of sunlight, she lifted the orchestra to immense heights” (Västerbottens-Kuriren).

Jessica Cottis’s 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. She later studied conducting with Sir Colin Davis at the Royal Academy of Music, and went on to serve as Assistant Conductor to mentors Sir Donald Runnicles, Charles Dutoit, and Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Cottis grew up on her family’s sheep farm and developed a lifelong interest in both music and the natural world. She is especially interested in the relation between music and science, and the act of listening. She resides in London, and outside of music is an avid lepidopterist. 

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