Jessica Cottis
Jessica Cottis. Photo by Kaupo Kikkas

Jessica Cottis

The Australian conductor discusses her synaesthesia, her new role at Canberra Symphony Orchestra, and her love of butterflies.

Has your early career as an organist, abruptly ended by carpal tunnel syndrome, helped you as a conductor? Do you miss being among those actually playing the music?

Having an injury that prevented me from playing was devastating at the time, but I’m strangely grateful because I’d never have taken up conducting otherwise. I still play piano, purely for myself – Bach, Mendelssohn Schumann, Brahms, some improvisation – but I don’t miss performing as an instrumentalist. Conducting is simply a different way of making music; it demands a different type of focus, a different kind of connection. I really enjoy...