Known for her chameleonic musicianship and fearless performance of new and experimental works, Kelsey Cotton is quickly garnering a reputation as a distinctive voice within contemporary and experimental music. The Australian born vocalist studied at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music at Monash University under Merlyn Quaife (Order of Australia), where she graduated with her Bachelor of Music (First Class Honours) in 2017.
A passionate champion of new and experimental works, she is devoted to pushing the boundaries of music and the limits of the human voice. Kelsey has sung numerous world premieres with the ASTRA Chamber Music Society (AU), debuting works by acclaimed composers such as Vlad-Razvan Baciu, Paul Kopetz and Andrew Byrne. She had her operatic debut with Victorian Opera in 2017, in Aaron Copland’s The Second Hurricane. Kelsey also sang the world premiere of Melbourne composer James Christensen’s one-woman chamber opera When I Awoke. Her “complex and detailed” performance in the opera was received with great acclaim at Melbourne’s ‘The Butterfly Club’ in January 2018 (Stage Whispers).
In March 2018 Kelsey was invited to sing at the inaugural Art as Sound as Art (AaSaA) Exploratory Music Festival at the Royal Whanganui Opera House in New Zealand, where she was a performance fellow. Later that year Kelsey sang in the world premiere of ‘Beneath the Surface’; a chamber work for voice and string quartet, composed for her by local Melbourne cellist and composer Luke Severn.
She made her American festival debut at the famous SICPP (Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice) at the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts in June 2018. Whilst at SICPP Kelsey performed in masterclasses hosted by Julian Anderson (UK), and in private recitals in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
In early 2018 Kelsey was offered a position at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, where she is completing her studies in a Master in Contemporary Performance and Composition (MA CoPeCo). As part of her studies, Kelsey has undertaken exchange semesters at the Kungliga. Musikhögskolan i Stockholm (Sweden), the Conservatoire National Supérieur Musique et Danse de Lyon (France) and the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg (Germany). She will graduate in August 2020.
Throughout her studies Kelsey has been an internationally sought-after interpreter of new music, and has performed world premieres of works by composers such as Davide Umbrello (IT), Casey Moir (AU/SV), Demian Rudel Rey (AR) and Helena Skljarov (HR) across Europe.
Kelsey’s future engagements include the digital world-premiere of composer Ryszard Alzin’s opera Raport o stanie planety, where she will debut the role of Ania, as well as the world premiere of her own work The Body Electric.