London Mozart Players (LMP) is delighted to announce the appointment of virtuoso clarinettist Michael Collins as its Artistic Director in Residence for the 2021–2023 seasons – encompassing Michael’s 60th birthday. Michael will take up his position at the heart of this player-led orchestra from September 2021, working in parallel with the management team and fellow players to deliver a fresh artistic vision for the new, post-Covid era of music making.

The LMP has enjoyed a long association with Michael Collins dating back to his earliest days as a professional musician following his section win in the first ever BBC Young Musician of the Year in 1978 when aged sixteen. In addition to performing solos with the orchestra and recording with them throughout his long and distinguished career, Michael has more recently conducted the orchestra, and he is looking forward to having a real hands-on role at LMP, working closely with the orchestra’s artistic team, together shaping two entire seasons of creative and dynamic programming.

Although Michael’s plans are under wraps for the moment, his artistic vision with LMP will involve devising a wide-ranging and diverse programme of concerto and chamber works for the orchestra to perform during his year in residence, across concerts, tours and recordings. The programme will be eclectic and inclusive, not just on the concert stage but in schools and communities, ensuring that there are no boundaries for accessing classical music. Two confirmed concerts are Bath’s MozartFest in November 2021 and of course Michael’s 60th birthday concert on 27 January 2022 (a birthday he shares with Mozart) at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, which will be a big celebration of both Michael and Mozart.

The explosion in digital content during the pandemic also adds another element to the planned programming, and LMP will be taking full advantage of this through their online concert series which is already reaching a global audience. In fact, Michael’s first digital concert with LMP is this week, on Thursday 1 October 2020, when he performs as part of LMP’s new online ‘Classical Club’, playing Mozart and Weber clarinet quintets with LMP, filmed at the Tower Room in the St Pancras’s iconic gothic revival Clock Tower. You can find out more about that concert and Classical Club here.

Michael Collins commented: ‘I am terribly excited about my appointment as Artistic Director in Residence with the London Mozart Players. I have worked with them for many years, and one of the many things I love about working with them is their team spirit and dedication to every work they tackle. For me it is a very humbling experience to share the platform with great musicians and I am sure that the results of our joint venture will be electric! My aim is to collaborate in a way where I can bring new ideas to firm favourites from the chamber orchestra repertoire. One of my passions is the recording studio and it will be exhilarating to record with the LMP in both concerto and orchestral repertoire. Something else to look forward to with pleasure will be the return of touring – hopefully in the near future. I know from past experience that repeating repertoire on a concert tour can really bring fresh ideas. So, it is with the greatest pleasure and sincere musical excitement that I take up this new role in this marvellous orchestra!’

Julia Desbruslais, LMP Executive Director, said: ‘It is with huge pleasure that we announce the appointment of Michael Collins, a great musician, renown clarinettist and a long-term colleague and friend of the LMP, as our Artistic Director in residence for our 2021–23 seasons. This is a relationship that plays into the heart of the vision of the LMP – to be run by players. It is a relationship between likeminded musicians, drawing on the opportunity presented by a destructive pandemic to re-think our role and meet new needs, enabling us to take classical music into new communities and reach diverse and broad audiences across the globe. We cannot wait to work with him!’