With her “incisive presence on the podium,” “emotive in her conducting without being in any sense showy” (Edmonton Journal), Cuban-born and raised conductor Cosette Justo Valdés has garnered acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic and is a rising star on the world’s concert stage. She is presently Resident Conductor of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (Canada) where she has won the hearts of musicians and audience alike. Recent highlights include a “mindblowing” (Ottawa Citizen) collaboration with Esperanza Spalding and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, and a celebrated Così fan tutte with the Edmonton Opera, conducted from the harpsichord.
Cosette maintains strong ties to her native Cuba, where she is celebrated as Honorary Director of the prestigious Orquesta Sinfónica de Oriente in Santiago, Cuba’s musical heartland, which she led for 9 years. During that time, seconded by an administrator and a librarian, she single-handedly managed and directed the 80-musician ensemble, developing an extensive repertoire of classical and contemporary music, jazz and pop, while championing both new and traditional Cuban music. A frequent guest conductor of the Orquesta Nacional de Cuba in La Habana, she premiered works by Cuba’s musical luminaries including Leo Brouwer, Alfredo Diez Nieto, Roberto Valera, and many more.
With the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Cosette is equally at ease leading programs from the Masters, Pops, or Kids series, garnering praise from critics, audience, and musicians alike for her “vivacity,” and “inspiring, precise, fiery” conducting (Edmonton Journal). Her position with the orchestra since 2019 as Assistant Conductor and since March 2022 as Resident Conductor, includes the role of Community Ambassador, through which she has developed an exceptionally warm and rewarding relationship with orchestra patrons as well as the city’s arts community. Cosette is also the Artistic Director of the Youth Orchestra of Northern Alberta, the ESO’s Sistema-based program that provides free music education to some 200 children from Edmonton’s priority neighborhoods and surrounding First Nations.
Cosette holds her bachelor’s degree in conducting, with Prof. Jorge López Marín, at the Instituto Superior de Arte (La Habana, Cuba) and her master’s degree, with Prof. Klaus Arp, at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst (Mannheim, Germany). She has assisted many conductors in Europe and the Americas, including Klaus Arp, Francesco Belli, Alexander Prior, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, Alexander Shelley, Mario Venzago and Michael Stern.
During her time in Europe, Cosette guest-conducted with dozens of orchestras in Germany and Eastern Europe, such as the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra, Theater und Orchester Heidelberg, Nationaltheater Mannheim and Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra in Bulgaria. In Cuba Cosette has been invited to conduct all the symphony orchestras plus several chamber ensembles. In Canada she has guest conducted iMusici de Montréal, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kamloops Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble from the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa).
In addition to her duties with the Edmonton Symphony, Cosette has upcoming engagements from coast to coast in Canada, as well as across the Americas. Some highlights include two programs with Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, six programs with Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, a collaboration with Against the Grain Theatre in Toronto, two dates with National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa, Canada), and a repeat invitation with Orquesta Sinfónica de la Universidad de Guanajuato (México).
Cosette was recently chosen as finalist in the searches for Music Director of the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra (US) and the Vancouver Island Symphony Orchestra (Canada). She has also been nominated for the Heinz Unger Award 2022 by the Ontario Arts Council in Canada.