Jonathan Cohen


Jonathan Cohen is one of Britain's finest young musicians. He has forged a remarkable career as a conductor, cellist and keyboardist. Well known for his passion and commitment to chamber music Jonathan is equally at home in such diverse activities as baroque opera and the classical symphonic repertoire. He is Artistic Director of Arcangelo, Associate Conductor of Les Arts Florissants and Artistic Director of Tetbury Festival.
Recent conducting highlights have included Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Kammerakademie Potsdam and performances of Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie at Glyndebourne Festival. Future conducting dates include Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera de Dijon and Opéra Théâtre de Saint-Etienne, Lockenhaus Festival, Verbier Festival, NDR Hannover,  Het Residentie Orkest, Hamburg Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Zürcher Kammerorchester, Vasteras Sinfonietta, South Jutland Symphony, reinvitations  to Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Budapest Festival Orchestra, and Aalto Musiktheater Essen with Mozart’s  Die Entführing aus dem Serail. With Les Arts Florissants he conducts  in Vienna and St. Petersburg.

Jonathan founded Arcangelo, with whom he performs high quality and specially created projects. He tours with them to exceptional halls and festivals such as Philharmonie Berlin, Vienna Musikverein,  Köln Philharmonie, Ghent Cathedral, and Carnegie Hall New York. Recent highlights include Bach’s B Minor Mass in Ghent and Handel’s Apollo  e Dafne at Zankel Hall New York. Arcangelo are busy and much in demand in the recording studio, partnering with fine soloists.  Jonathan and Arcangelo have received five star reviews with ‘Porpora cantatas’ and ‘Arias for Guadagni’ with Iestyn Davies on Hyperion, the latter disc won the Recital Category at the 2012 Gramophone Classical Music Awards. Other recordings are ‘Enchanted Forest’ with Anna Prohaska on Deutsche Grammophon, ‘Amoretti’ with Christiane Karg (Mozart, Gluck) on Berlin Classics, Handel’s ‘Finest Arias for Base Voice’ with Christopher Purves on Hyperion and their most recent disc ‘Monteverdi Sestina Madrigals’. Forthcoming releases include ‘Bach B Minor Mass’ and ‘Couperin Leçons de ténèbres’ (due for release winter 2014).

This biography must not be edited without the permission of Askonas Holt Ltd.

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Stadtkirche, Thun

A programme of rare baroque arias, songs and instrumental music by composers including Dowland, Cavalli, Strozzi, Ferrari, Purcell and Scarlatti.

Anna Prohaska, soprano
Jonathan Cohen, director

Palais Montcalm, Quebec

HANDEL : Concerto grosso, Op. 6 No 8 in C minor
J.S. BACH : Brandeburg Concerto No 1, BEWV 1046
MOZART : Serenata Notturna, K. 239
HAYDN : Symphony No 6  “Le Matin”
With Les Violons du Roy

Salle Bourgie, Montreal

HANDEL : Concerto grosso, Op. 6 No 8 in C minor
J.S. BACH : Brandeburg Concerto No 1, BEWV 1046
MOZART : Serenata Notturna, K. 239
HAYDN : Symphony No 6  “Le Matin”
With Les Violons du Roy

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Bach Mass in B Minor Recording

With Arcangelo

Jonathan Cohen’s rejection of the generic, within a grand and ravishing overview, is what propels an overwhelming sense here that this reading deserves to be taken very seriously. Quite how in performance one ‘reads’ the span of a piece whose spiritual and intellectual symmetries are potentially so forbidding raises many issues but Cohen’s unforced feel for tactus, initially heard in the prima prattica (the more archaic) movements is revelatory in its coherence...the most distinctive attribute here is how Cohen, with his exceptional choral and instrumental forces, resists pursuing a single overall textural ideal and instead seeks an evolving, unrushed relationship between each movement according to the musical stage in the journey...This is a performance where character and rich dimension emerge from within a patient and naturally projected vision of Bach’s most celebrated compendium. Gramophone Magazine 'Editors Choice' November 2014

Arcangelo Concert

Wigmore Hall

From his vantage point at the harpsichord, Cohen didn’t always need to do much conducting: less evidence of lethargy than scrupulous preparation allied to a pleasure in the freedom of performance. His interpolations of instrumental works from other composers — Merula’s joyous Ciaccona, installed midway through one of Monteverdi’s madrigals at the point where we’re invited to dance, and a trio by Dario Castello — supplied contrasting textures and highlighted the breadth of expertise he had to showcase. The Times, 20 March 2014

Festive Messiahs 2013/14

St Paul Chamber Orchestra

"And the local tradition is in very safe hands, indeed. Thursday evening's first of three sold-out performances was exceptionally well executed, balancing a fine taste of the familiar with some pleasant surprises. Under the direction of English conductor Jonathan Cohen, the orchestra and its SPCO Chorale proved spirited collaborators for the four vocal soloists, employing a gentle touch in unexpected places and embracing lushness to fine effect." - Rob Hubbard
"Conductor for the day was Jonathan Cohen, a Baroque specialist, music director of the group Arcangelo and associate conductor of William Christie's Les Arts Florissants. His tempos for this Messiah were even and unhurried. Not once was it driven hard. Not once were any of the recitatives, arias or choruses overstated." Herald Scotland 3 January 2014 - Michael Tumelty

Debut Concerts December 2013

Scottish Chamber Orchestra

"Cohen bound the forces together with non-dictatorial precision, coaxing such wonderful moments as the triumphant Gloria – resplendent with its cream topping of three trumpets – or the moving simplicity of the Et Incarnatus est with expressive integrity. This wasn’t a Bach performance characterised by incessant high energy, but one that made everything of the light and shade, the sighing motifs, the virtuosic instrumental solos, and the seamless beauty of a work that, rather extraordinarily, was probably never conceived as an entity.

The tempered eloquence of the orchestra was matched by vocal soloists tuned into Cohen’s singular mindset – the pearl-like clarity of soprano Lorna Anderson, if occasionally uncentred on the note; Kitty Whately’s mellow mezzo-soprano, the effortless radiance of tenor Andrew Tortise, and Stephan Loges’ magisterial bass. A moving performance.
The Scotsman 14 December 2013 - Ken Walton

Arcangelo's New York Debut December 2013

Zankel Hall

"It was an auspicious New York debut for Arcangelo, which was founded in 2010 by Mr. Cohen, the associate conductor of William Christie’s Arts Florissants."
New York Times 19 Nov 2013 - Zachary Woolfe

Johann Sebastian Bach

3 Sonatas for Viola Da Gamba and Harpsichord Recording

Genuin Select

"An absolute revelation: If Bach's 6 suites for Solo Cello are your thing, you will certainly enjoy his splendid three sonatas for gamba (or cello) and harpsichord. They are more outgoing and florid, more formal and less personal, although at moments they are deeply moving. When they are played as they are here by Nicholas Altstaedt, one of the cello realm's most brilliant young princes, and Jonathan Cohen, rising like a shooting star through the period performance sector, we are guaranteed that every bar will have been thought out to within an inch of its life, then let go to explore spontaneously according to the musicians' larger overarching interpretive principles and schemes. The result of 43 minutes of such cosmically-designed, lapidarian beauty will resonate for a lifetime." Huffington Post 17 September 2013

Early Music Series: Anna Prohaska

Wigmore Hall

Jonathan Cohen, director of the 15-strong band, cleverly arranged the arias in a continuous sequence interspersed with instrumental numbers, artfully grouped by key so that one number seemed to 'lead’ to another — with the odd harmonic twist to give an emotional jolt Ivan Hewett, for The Guardian

Concert 8 November 2012

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Sarah Connolly

"Jonathan Cohen’s sensitive direction of the OAE and Connolly’s vocal lustre effortlessly carried the day." The Evening Standard, 9 November 2012

Concert 8 November 2012

Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

"under Jonathan Cohen’s direction the multi-instrumentalist wind players blew merry storms, while the strings achieved ravishing purity." The Independent, 9 November 2012


Le nozze di Figaro

Glyndebourne Touring Opera

"Under Jonathan Cohen, the Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra sound great — the overture ripped into at a fair lick and not too delicately, an announcement of fun to come." The Evening Standard, 7 November 2012


Le nozze di Figaro

Glyndebourne Touring Opera

"Jonathan Cohen's conducting of the overture proved at once that he was master of mood and mischief, and his control of the big ensembles yielded thrilling results."

Opera Magazine November 2012

Guadagni Recording

With Iestyn Davies and Arcangelo

"Director Jonathan Cohen and his ensemble Arcangelo capture the rapid, unexpected twists of the younger Bach's radical imagination." BBC Music Magazine, August 2012.

Concert 15 March 2012

Noord Nederlands Orkest

"After the interval followed a wonderful performance of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony. The relatively young conductor Jonathan Cohen is an early music specialist. His approach was heard in his clear and direct tonal language. The dynamic nuances and precise playing gave the performance depth and colour. With the same approach in the third symphony, the performance grew into true musical enjoyment."
Friesch Dagblad, March 2012