Jessica Cottis will lead the Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s artistic team from 2021, the orchestra has announced. The London-based Australian conductor, who grew up in Canberra, will be supported by Simon Hewett as Principal Guest Conductor and Artistic Planning Manager Andy Baird, the new artistic team taking over from Dr Nicholas Milton AM, who concludes his tenure as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director at the end of 2020 after dedicating 15 years to the orchestra’s development.

Jessica CottisJessica Cottis. Photo © Kaupo Kikkas

“I look forward to building on the legacy achieved by Dr Nicholas Milton AM, who has established the CSO as both a national leader in Australian music and a pillar of the local community,” said Cottis.

“I’m so proud of what the CSO has achieved over the past 15 years,” said Dr Milton. “I thank the musicians for their energy and dedication, which will see the CSO continue to flourish in this next chapter, guided by the gifted and dynamic Jessica Cottis.”

Cottis has worked closely with the orchestra as a guest conductor over the last two years, and is co-curator of the CSO’s new online Australian Miniseries with composer Matthew Hindson. Based in London, she made her BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall in 2016, returning in 2017 and 2019. She has been a guest conductor with orchestras around Australia – including the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, where she was Assistant Conductor in 2012 and 2013, and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, with whom she recorded the album Gallipoli Symphony for ABC Classic – and internationally, including the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, LA Philharmonic, Singapore Symphony Orchestra  and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

The CSO will launch its 2021 season later this year. “My vision is to see the CSO develop even further as an orchestral innovator,” Cottis said. “Telling compelling Australian stories and taking on thought-provoking subject matter through music.”


Read Jessica Cottis’ column about her relationship with Canberra and its orchestra here