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Michael Collins

Language available : english
Michael Collins is among the most prominent clarinetists of his generation. He has appeared in concert as principal clarinetist with the Philharmonia Orchestra and London Sinfonietta, as a member of the Nash Ensemble, and as a freelance soloist and chamber player. His repertory is broad, taking in much British music, including works by Elgar, Vaughan Williams, and Britten. He has also performed and recorded large chunks from the output of disparate European composers like Mozart, Brahms, and Bartók. In addition, Collins has been acclaimed for his role in expanding the clarinet repertory by premiering and commissioning important works by contemporary composers. In 2021, Collins issued La Clarinette Parisienne with pianist Noriko Ogawa. Collins was born on January 27, 1962, in Isleworth (west London), England. He enrolled at the Royal College of Music in London in his early teens. His chief teachers there were David Hamilton and Thea King. By age 16, he attained virtuoso status, winning the woodwind prize at the 1978 BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition. The year 1981 was a watershed one for Collins: he joined both the London Sinfonietta and Nash Ensemble. He debuted at Carnegie Hall in 1982, and the following year made his first recording as a member of the Nash Ensemble -- A Centenary Tribute (chamber music of Lennox Berkeley). In 1984, he recorded three volumes of chamber music by Malcolm Arnold with the Nash Ensemble and also debuted at the Promenade Concerts as soloist in an acclaimed performance of Thea Musgrave's Concerto for clarinet and orchestra. In 1985, Collins began teaching at the Royal College of Music, and two years later, accepted the post of principal clarinetist for the Philharmonia Orchestra. Collins founded the chamber ensemble London Winds in 1988, a group he has toured with throughout Europe and North America. Collins left his posts at the Philharmonia and Royal College of Music in 1995 to concentrate on freelance work. In the latter 20th and early 21st centuries, he has been appearing as a soloist and chamber music partner to many of the leading musicians of the day, including Martha Argerich, Mikhail Pletnev, and Joshua Bell. Collins has premiered works by many notable figures of the era, including John Adams' Gnarly Buttons, the Clarinet Concerto of Elliott Carter, and Elena Kats-Chernin's Ornamental Air. The Royal Philharmonic Society named Collins Instrumentalist of the Year in 2007 for his dedication to growing the repertory for the clarinet. In 2009, he performed Adams' Gnarly Buttons at the Mostly Mozart Festival with the composer conducting. He has also increasingly turned to conducting, serving as the principal conductor for the City of London Sinfonia from 2010 until 2018. He has guest conducted a number of prominent orchestras, including the Philharmonia, the BBC Symphony, and the London Mozart Players. The latter naming Collins artistic director in residence for the 2021 through 2023 seasons. In 2021, Collins was accompanied by pianist Noriko Ogawa on the album La Clarinette Parisienne, with Sérgio Pires joining for Poulenc's Sonata for Two Clarinets.
© Robert Cummings /TiVo
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