Jessica Cottis was awarded a first class honours degree in organ and musicology from the Australian National University and continued her studies in Paris, with Marie-Claire Alain. After a hand injury halted her playing career she began conducting, studying with Colin Metters and Sir Colin Davis at the Royal Academy of Music in London where she was awarded the top conducting prizes upon graduation in 2009.
Her international career was launched through close working relationships with mentors Vladimir Ashkenazy, Charles Dutoit and Donald Runnicles. She was the first Fellow in Conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Assistant Conductor at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (2009-11), and Assistant Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (2012-14), with which she conducted over thirty concerts each year. In 2014 she became Principal Conductor of the Glasgow New Music Expedition.
In increasing demand as a guest conductor elsewhere, this year Jessica Cottis has appeared with soloists including Pascal Rogé, Nikolai Demidenko, Kathryn Stott and Sarah Chang. Highlights of recent seasons include debuts with orchestras such as the Sydney, Queensland and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Bit20 Ensemble Bergen, RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra, l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, Istanbul State Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, at the Edinburgh and Aldeburgh Festivals, and in the recording studio with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. For the 2016 / 2017 season, Jessica Cottis will make a welcome return visit to many of the above orchestras and will make her Royal Albert Hall debut for the 2016 BBC Proms.
A gifted communicator, Jessica Cottis commentates and is broadcasted regularly on a broad range of musical and arts-related topics. She acted as conducting mentor to presenter Dame Jenni Murray on a BBC Radio 4 ‘Woman’s Hour’ special and in a similar capacity to DJ Trevor Nelson for the 2012 BBC2 Television series ‘Maestro at the Opera’. Since 2014 she is Visiting Lecturer in Conducting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
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.