The Russian-American cellist, Nina Kotova, was accepted by the cello faculty into an adult class of the Moscow Conservatory at the age of 7, while studying at the Central Music School Pre-Conservatory. She gave her first performance as a soloist with an orchestra at the age of 11 and at 15 won First Prize at the Prague International Competition. At 19, after graduating in Moscow, she left the Soviet Union and continued studying in Germany and the USA.
In 1996 Nina Kotova made her debut in the West at the prestigious Wigmore Hall in London. Since then, she made her Barbican Centre and Carnegie Hall debuts and appeared in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, Town Hall in New York, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, Orchid Hall and Osaka Symphony Hall in Japan, Wolf Trap and she has performed on the Red Square in Moscow, for the Imperial family of Japan, and at Buckingham Palace. She has performed as soloist with symphony orchestras across the globe including the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Prague Radio, Russian State Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, China Philharmonic, Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Russian National State Symphony, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Budapest Symphony Orchestra, Gulbenkian Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Opera House orchestras. She has toured the USA, South America and Asia, including a solo performance for the Imperial Family of Japan, an appearance on the MTV Music Awards at the MET and a special performance with Sting at the Royal Opera House in London.
Nina Kotova has recently appeared at the Verbier, Las Canarias and Tuscan Sun festivals, collaborating with artists such as Nikolaj Znaider, Sir James Galway, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Lang Lang, Teodor Currentzis, Stephane Deneve, Nicola Luisotti, Libor Pesek. Thomas Vasary, Hélène Grimaud, Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Bobby McFerrin, Ivry Gitlis, Nobuko Imai, Julian Rachlin, Justus Frantz, Claus Peter Flor, Long Yu, Dmitry Sitkovetsky, Antonio Pappano and Simon Trpčeski in both chamber music and concerto performances.
Nina Kotova signed a recording contract with Philips Classics in 1996 and released her debut album in 1999. The CD was an instant success, remaining on the Billboard charts for several weeks. Elle magazine (September, 1999) named Nina Kotova one of the 25 persons to watch in the next century, and she has been the subject of features in Time, Newsweek, Vogue, Reader's Digest, the Wall Street Journal, Classic FM and on television on the Charlie Rose Show, Hard Talk with Tim Sebastian, and Breakfast with the Arts. Other recordings include a CD release of her own Cello Concerto recorded with the Philharmonia of Russia conducted by Constantine Orbelian (Delos, 2002), her chart topping, self-titled debut album (Philips Classics, 1999), a recent recording of the Dvorak's Cello Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Andrew Litton (Sony Classics, 2006) and inclusion on the compilation "Masters of the Bow" (Deutsche Grammophone, 2003) which pays hommage to the greatest cellists of the last 50 years.
Nina Kotova has a keen interest in expanding the repertoire available for cello. Her Cello Concerto was premiered in San Francisco with the Women's Philharmonic with Kotova as soloist in the 2000 to rave reviews. Octavio Roca of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: "Kotova in 2000 stands in defiance of last century's modernism and the new simplicity of so much recent music. Her cello concerto is a complex, gripping affair. Kotova is destined for greatness." In 2005 Kotova premiered her newly written "The Tuscan" Cello Concerto, on an eighteen city tour of the USA, including a Carnegie Hall performance, in collaboration with the NES Orchestra, Dmitry Sitkovetsky and the renowned writer, Frances Mayes. Kotova commissioned several leading composers to write a Cello Concerto for her, including another recent collaborator composer Christopher Theofanidis. In 2009 she performed the world premiere of the Theofanidis Cello Concerto with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, following with Asian premiere of the work in Singapore with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jaap Van Zweden.
In August 2003, Nina Kotova co-founded and serves as the Artistic Director of the Tuscan Sun Festival (also known as the Festival del Sole) in Cortona, Italy, which celebrates music, art, literature, and the art of living with a two-week program filled with concerts, exhibitions, and spectacular events.
In 2011 Nina Kotova and Mrs. Barrett Wissman have been presented the Tuscan-American award for the further development of the cultural relations between Tuscany and USA.
Nina Kotova has taught as a visiting artist at the University of Texas and has been the subject of numerous features in Time, Newsweek, Vogue, Elle and the Wall Street Journal, as well as being on the covers of Classic FM, Gramophone China, Il Venerdi Italia and Reader's Digest and appearing on television on A&E Breakfast with the Arts and the Charlie Rose Show.
Nina Kotova represents the third generation of musicians in her family. Her father, Ivan Ivanovich Kotov, (1950–1985), who died after years of cultural-political persecution, is regarded as a legendary virtuoso double bassist. She is carrying on the tradition of not only her legendary father, but her teachers and mentors, which include Igor Gavrysh, Valentin Feigin, Boris Pergamenschikov and Mstislav Rostropovich.
Nina Kotova plays the 1673 du Pré Stradivarius. She is currently living in Los Angeles, California, USA.