Hailed in the UK music press as “one to watch,” JESSICA COTTIS possesses intellectual rigor, 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.
Born in Australia and a dual British-Australian citizen, Jessica Cottis was awarded a first-class honors 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 in the postgraduate conducting course at the Royal Academy of Music. Cottis was awarded the Academy’s top conducting prizes upon graduation in July 2009, the same month she was appointed to her positions at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and RCS, and also Manson Fellow in Composition at the Royal Academy of Music.
Her international career was launched through close working relationships with mentors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Charles Dutoit, and Donald Runnicles. From 2009 to 2011 she was the first Fellow in Conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Assistant Conductor at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and from 2012 to 2014 Assistant Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, where she conducted over 30 concerts per year with the orchestra, being lauded in the Australian press as “one of the big hopes for change.” In 2014 Jessica Cottis was appointed Principal Conductor of the Glasgow New Music Expedition.
She is frequently in demand as guest conductor; highlights of recent seasons include performances with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Concert Orchestra, the Queensland and Adelaide symphony orchestras, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and recording with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
The 2017/18 season marked a return – after the success of her debut in 2016 – to the prestigious BBC Proms in July, as well as debuts with Malaysian Philharmonic, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and Malmo Symphony Orchestra.
Jessica Cottis will continue her string of exceptionally well-received Film with Live Orchestra productions, with presentations of ET, Jurassic Park, Jaws, Disney’s Fantasia, and The Addams Family.
A keen mentor and teacher, she participated in the Create and Sing Carmen program for primary school children, a course for female conductors with London’s Royal Philharmonic Society, and an education day with Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra
In recent years, Jessica Cottis has become a frequent contributor to BBC radio programs. In 2013, she taught Dame Jenni Murray the basics of conducting for a BBC Woman’s Hour special, and has returned to the program 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 contributed to Trevor Cox’s BBC radio 4 program, the Today program, and Proms Extra. 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 continued her association as a juror for the semi-finals.
In 2015 she 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.