Michael Collins

Clarinet / Conductor

At a glance

Michael Collins

Clarinet / Conductor

Brilliant playing in every sense
Classic FM


Biography —

Michael Collins is one of the most complete musicians of his generation. With a continuing, distinguished career as a soloist, he has in recent years also become highly regarded as a conductor and in 2010 took the position of Principal Conductor of the City of London Sinfonia. Recent guest conducting and play-directing highlights have included engagements with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Ulster Orchestra, and the HPAC Orchestra in Kyoto, Japan.

Highlights this season include a return to the Philharmonia Orchestra as conductor for a regional tour; a Royal Festival Hall concert with violinist Alina Pogostkina; performances worldwide with orchestras including Kuopio Symphony Orchestra, Zurich Chamber Orchestra, and the Rheinische Philharmonie; and tours in South Africa, Melbourne (with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra), Tokyo (with the City of London Sinfonia), Mexico (with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional), and Hamamatsu.

This season Michael will also conduct and perform with the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a studio concert and work with the Kymi Sinfonietta and Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra for play-direct programmes. He also makes his debut with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, playing and directing a programme of Mozart, Weber and Rossini. As a soloist, he will work with the Charlotte Symphony and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Future plans include OSESP Sao Paulo, as well as a return to the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Kuopio Symphony Orchestra.

Last season, his play-direct engagements included Adelaide, Tasmanian and Melbourne Symphony orchestras, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, as well as Kuopio Symphony. As a conductor, he returned to the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, conducting Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No 5 and Beethoven’s Symphony No 3 and also conducted the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in a programme of Mozart and Bartók.

Michael Collins has been committed to expanding the repertoire of the clarinet for many years. He has given premières of works such as John Adams’ Gnarly Buttons, Elliott Carter’s Clarinet Concerto – for which he won a Gramophone award for his recording on Deutsche Grammophon – Brett Dean’s Ariel’s Music and Turnage’s Riffs and Refrains, which was commissioned by the Hallé Orchestra. Collins has gone on to perform Turnage’s work with the Residentie Orkest, Royal Flanders and Helsinki Philharmonics, as well as the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Collins has received the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year Award in 2007 in recognition of his pivotal role in premièring repertoire by some of today’s most highly regarded composers.

In great demand as a chamber musician, Collins performs regularly with the Borodin, Heath and Takács quartets, András Schiff, Martha Argerich, Stephen Hough, Mikhail Pletnev, Lars Vogt, Joshua Bell and Steven Isserlis. His ensemble, London Winds, celebrates its thirtieth anniversary in 2018 and the group maintains a busy diary with high calibre engagements such as the BBC Proms, Aldeburgh Festival, Edinburgh Festival, City of London Festival, Cheltenham International Festival and Bath Mozartfest. He has a regular relationship with the Wigmore Hall and was one of their Artists in Residence in 2015/16, which includes concerts with London Winds and Christine Rice, Ailish Tynan and with the Borodin Quartet – with whom he will also work at the Cite de la Musique in Paris. Collins is also Artistic Director of the Liberation International Music Festival in Jersey. In 2018 he will host a series at LSO St Luke’s called ‘Michael Collins and Friends’.

Michael Collins records exclusively for Chandos and has covered a wide range of repertoire in his prolific recording career, which also includes releases on Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, EMI and Sony. Recent releases include a disc of British Clarinet Concertos with the BBC Symphony Orchestra which features Collins as soloist and conductor, and two discs with pianist Michael McHale: the first of Brahms and Reinicke Clarinet Sonatas and the second of Reger Clarinet Sonatas. Collins’s 50th Birthday was celebrated with a Chandos release of Weber Concertos conducted and performed by himself with the City of London Sinfonia. He has also recorded concertos by Corigliano, Adams, Carter, as well as Spohr, Copland and of course Mozart. In the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 2015, Michael Collins was awarded an MBE for his services to music. He plays exclusively on Yamaha clarinets.

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Reviews —

Collins's breath control and easy virtuosity [...] had to be heard to be believed. An exhilarating hour of music-making.

The Sunday Times; from Michael's recital with pianist Michael McHale at Bath Mozartfest, November 2016

Michael Collins is on superb musical and technical form… matchless performances.”

International Record Review

There’s no denying that Collins is a master of his instrument; his technique is faultless.

Fanfare Magazine

Gorgeous-toned musicianship

BBC Music Magazine

Collins floats exquisitely limpid lines in the graceful, contrapuntal Adagio, allowing it effortlessly to unfold

Classic FM

...one of the most glorious clarinettists in the world today, a concerto soloist of brilliance, a chamber musician of enormous sensitivity.

Huddersfield Daily Examiner

Throughout, Michael Collins is in his element, relishing every twist and turn of the music’s consistently imaginative invention.


The flow of the opening melody was beautifully caught by Collins and there was a sense of freedom in his playing... This well-contrasted programme found clarinet and piano as a congenial combination and featured two artists of taste and personality, Michael Collins and Michael McHale, who know each other’s playing so well

Classical Source

...he still maintains that youthful enthusiasm in every note that he plays... Messager's Solo de Concours completely took the breath away and elicited the loudest cheer that I have heard in the Dora Stoutzker Hall.

South Wales Argus

The performance itself was outstanding, possibly the finest I have ever heard… Their resourcefulness vividly captured the entire emotional and expressive range of the music, from the complex rhythms found in the four tutti movements to the utter serenity of the two extremely slow duets.

Surrey Advertiser

It’s a winner whichever way you look at it… to hear [Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto] in such a glorious performance is a real joy… one of the world’s truly great clarinettists.

Limelight Magazine

Collins’s clarinet-playing mesmerises the ear: the closing phrase of Stanford’s ‘Caoine’ movement shows what a player in this league can convey in just two quiet notes.

BBC Music Magazine

Michael Collins plays (and conducts) them with an irresistible exuberance that I’ve not heard equalled.


It’s hard to imagine this varied programme better played than it is here by Collins and Michael McHale. They’re technically impeccable and stylistically flexible.

BBC Music Magazine

Selected Discography —

Reger: Clarinet Sonatas

Mchael Collins' performance of Reger is mesmerising. 5*

BBC Music Magazine

The Lyrical Clarinet, Vol. 2

Imaginative, inspired playing by a leading clarinettist of a range of works


Brahms & Reinecke Clarinet Sonatas

Collins, with Mchale, offers joyous performances of these two works... a most desirable issue


Brahms: Cello Sonatas and Clarinet Trio

Collins floats exquisitely limpid lines in the graceful, contrapuntal Adagio, allowing it effortlessly to unfold.

BBC Music Magazine

Brahms: Clarinet Quintet (Brodsky Quartet)

...supreme vigour, clarity and refinement. Finely recorded, even by Collins and the Brodsky's standards.


Lutoslawski Orchestra Works Vol. 4

Collins proves as brilliant a soloist as any... Highly recommended.


British Clarinet Concertos

Collins's playing is compelling throughout... Collins shows off not only his splendid agility but also the affecting pathos of the closing pages of the score.

See full discography

Related Media —

Michael Collins: The Lyrical Clarinet

Clarinettist Michael Collins talks about his latest collection of clarinet music for Chandos Records, 'The Lyrical Clarinet', featuring sonatas by Saint-Saëns and Poulenc, plus works by Burgmüller, Finzi, Baermann, Pärt and Reade. View on YouTube

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Contact —


  • Costa Peristianis