Brad Cohen has been closely identified with contemporary music from the outset of his career. He made his professional debut with the world premiere of a new opera at Almeida Opera in 1992, beginning a long association with the Almeida. Work there included the first performances of Thomas Adès' Powder Her Face (1995), Guo Wenjing's Night Banquet (1998), Nigel Osborne's Terrible Mouth (1992), and Kevin Volans' The Man who strides the Wind (1993). In addition, he collaborated at the Almeida on new opera and theatre work with composers including Param Vir, John Woolrich, and Ian McQueen.
His association with the Composers Ensemble began in 1996, and has included concerts, workshops, collaborations with composers including Harrison Birtwistle and Deidre Gribbin, and in 1999 a Contemporary Music Network Tour celebrating the work of Frank Zappa.
Brad conducted the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in a BBC broadcast concert of Australian music for the Vale of Glamorgan Festival in 2001, with a programme including UK premieres of Ross Edwards' Second Symphony (Emma Bell, soprano) and Georges Lentz's Ngangkar.
For Musica nel Chiostro in Batignano, Brad collaborated with Stephen Oliver and Jonathan Dove on new stage works in Italian. His first engagement at Opera North was with Benedict Mason's Playing Away, which won Best Production at the 1994 Munich Biennale, and he performed works by Mark-Anthony Turnage at the London Coliseum under the auspices of the Contemporary Opera Studio.
In his role as Music Supervisor for the opening ceremony of the Millennium Dome in December 1999, Brad was instrumental in commissioning the new arrangement of the National Anthem and other pieces by Jonathan Dove. A close association with Jonathan's work has continued with a new production of Tobias and the Angel for CBTO and BCMG in 2000, the Channel Four TV opera When She Died, which attracted a UK TV audience of one million viewers, and the Australian premiere of Flight, which opened the 2006 Adelaide Festival. In 2006 Brad and Jonathan collaborated on a further opera for Channel Four TV, Man on the Moon, and in 2010 Brad conducted the American premiere of Jonathan's The Enchanted Pig on Broadway. In December 2014 Brad and Jonathan collaborated on the tenth anniversary celebrations for the Sage, Gateshead, with a performance of Work in Progress, a forty-minute work for orchestra and video first performed at the Sage's opening.
Brad's first programming as Artistic Director of West Australian Opera in 2016 was Iain Grandage's The Riders, a second outing for an important Australian opera and one which attracted widespread acclaim. He is currently engaged in commissioning and scheduling a program of new Australian work over the coming seasons.