Jessica Cottis


NEWS UPDATE 31 July 2014: Congratulations Jessica Cottis! The APRA Art Music Awards finalists were announced this morning, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Mary Finsterer’s new double bass concerto ‘Lake Ice’, conducted by Jessica Cottis and featuring Kees Boersma as soloist, is a finalist in both the ‘Performance of the Year’ and the ‘Work of the Year: Orchestral’ categories. For more information see http://congratulations-jessica-cottis/ and

14 June 2014: Jessica Cottis appointed Principal Conductor-designate of the Glasgow New Music Expedition from 2015.

27 May 2014: Feature in the Sydney Morning Herald: "Jessica Cottis is one of the big hopes for change." Article by Harriet Cunningham:  jessica-cottis-leads-push-for-more-female-conductors

8 February 2014: Jessica Cottis's 'Mozart in the City' Mozart + Bernstein programme with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra listed as one of the Sydney Morning Herald's 'Highlights of the 2014 Season'.

13 March 2014: Jessica Cottis featured in the UK's Classical Music Magazine 'Meet the Maestro'. Article by Jessica Duchen:

27 October 2013: Jessica Cottis to step in to conduct subscription series with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra on 30 & 31 October and 1 November. Hear Jessica conduct Britten's Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, Dvorak's New World symphony and the premiere of a new concerto for pipa (Chinese lute) by Zhao Jiping with Wu Man as soloist. More information here:

19 April 2013: 'Will anyone be able to follow to Sir Colin Davis?' Miranda Kiek's article in The Independent details the next generation of young British conductors, including Jessica Cottis "becoming increasingly well-known as a conductor of new and contemporary music".


WATCH Jessica as she takes some time out of her busy schedule to discuss the places that she has come to know and love during her time in Sydney, including the Botanic Gardens, Art Gallery of NSW and, of course, the iconic Sydney Opera House: Film for Credit Suisse/Sydney Symphony Orchestra

HEAR Jessica talk about concert hall acoustics on Trevor Cox's BBC Radio 4 programme 'In Search of the Ideal Music Venue':

READ Jessica's recent blog posts for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, as she writes about the three symphonies that inspire her the most: Jessica Cottis: My Favourite Symphonies

Archive film from 2009: watch Jessica explain her move from organ playing to conducting and discuss her time as Conducting Fellow and Assistant Conductor to Donald Runnicles at the BBC SSO:


BIOGRAPHY:  Hailed in the UK music press as ‘the one to watch', Jessica Cottis is fast gaining an international reputation as one of the most promising Australian and British conductors of the younger generation. Possessing intellectual rigour with 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. 

From 2012-2014, Jessica Cottis was Assistant Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra where she conducted the orchestra in over 30 concerts per year; she is also increasingly in demand as a guest conductor. Future highlights include her conducting debuts at Opera Australia, and with the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg, the Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Women of the World Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, Bit20 Ensemble in Bergen, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, as well as re-invitations to return to Scottish Opera, Southern Sinfonia New Zealand, the Queensland Symphony, Sydney Symphony, Adelaide Symphony, and BBC Scottish Symphony orchestras.

Cottis’ international career was launched through close working relationships with some of the world’s finest conductors, including her mentors Vladimir Ashkenazy, Charles Dutoit, and Donald Runnicles.

From 2009 to 2011 Jessica Cottis was the first Fellow in Conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Assistant Conductor at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. She made her BBC Proms debut in 2010 and went on to make her Edinburgh Festival debut in 2011, conducting Weill’s Die sieben Todsünden for Scottish Opera. In 2014 she conducts a new work by Peter Maxwell Davies for the opening of the restored organ at London's Royal Festival Hall.

She came to international attention in 2010 after stepping in at short notice to conduct the premiere of James Dillon’s Nine Rivers cycle with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Les Percussions de Strasbourg to critical acclaim, described by The Guardian as ‘unquestionably the most significant new-music event in Britain this year’. Very active as a conductor of new music, she is guest conductor of Scotland’s Red Note Ensemble and has conducted numerous premieres with ensembles such as the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Manson Ensemble, London Sinfonietta, and at festivals across the UK.

Born in Australia and a dual British - Australian citizen, Jessica Cottis obtained 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. Specialising in romantic and modern French repertoire, she made her European debut at Westminster Cathedral in 2002 and has given important recitals across Australia, North America and Europe. A wrist injury subsequently halted her playing career and 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 all of 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.

Her operatic career began in 2007 when she founded London’s Bloomsbury Opera, conducting productions of The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, Hansel and Gretel, and Eugene Onegin for the Bloomsbury Festival. Cottis has also assisted Donald Runnicles on Wagner’s music dramas, Vladimir Ashkenazy on Pique Dame, Simone Young on Götterdämmerung, and David Robertson on Der fliegende Holländer. In more recent years she has gone on to conduct new operas at the Aldeburgh Festival (Anna Meredith’s ‘Tarantula in Petrol Blue’), Royal Academy of Music (Martin Georgiev’s ‘The Mirror’), and in Nuremberg (Rory Boyle’s ‘Kaspar Hauser’).  On the concert platform she has already built up an extensive repertoire, having conducted major works by Mozart and Beethoven through Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Sibelius, Strauss, Debussy, Ravel, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Vaughan Williams and Britten to the modern day.

Education and youth music is a very important facet of her work. She has worked alongside Nicola Benedetti for the inspirational Benedetti Sessions, conducted side-by-side projects with Sistema Scotland and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and has conducted numerous education concerts for the BBC SSO and Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Cottis collaborates regularly as Visiting Lecturer in Conducting with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Symphony Orchestra and new music ensembles, and has worked extensively within the RCS Opera Department where she has conducted Le nozze di Figaro and Albert Herring. Jessica Cottis has given conducting masterclasses and workshops at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Royal Academy of Music, Canberra School of Music, Sydney Conservatorium, Beijing's Central Conservatory of Music, Xi'an Conservatory and Xinghai Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou, China.

In recent years, Jessica Cottis has become a frequent contributor to BBC radio programmes. In 2013 she taught Dame Jenni Murray the basics of conducting for a BBC Woman's Hour special, and has 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 Woman's Hour, and most recently contributed to Trevor Cox's BBC radio 4 special on concert hall acoustics and to the Today programme, discussing Brahms. 

In 2012 Jessica Cottis appeared on the BBC2 series ‘Maestro at the Opera’ as conducting mentor to DJ Trevor Nelson. In the same year she was a jury member for the finals of the BBC Young Musician Competition; in 2014 she continues her association as a juror for the semi-finals.

Jessica Cottis makes her home in Glasgow with her partner and two cats.