Alexander S. Kollias is a clarinetist devoted to exploring the multitude of characters within the clarinet voice. As a chamber musician, he is the principal clarinetist with the Hartford Independent chamber Orchestra (HICO), as well as a founding member of Kalmia Ensemble. He also has appeared multiple times as a featured guest soloist with the string ensemble, Cuatro Puntos. As a jazz clarinetist he is a founding member of the traditional jazz ensemble, French 75, and performs regularly with the Juniper Hill Jumpers and Corinthian Jazz Band. Kollias is also a founding member of HuaTian Ave, a trio of musicians dedicated to creating a new wave of unispherical jazz. Each member brings a unique voice, rooted in their own cultures, by melding jazz, klezmer, and Chinese music traditions. HuaTian Ave, is a group dedicated to playing and improvising together to create something original and honest, and is comprised of guzheng, clarinet, and guitar.
Kollias has performed across the world in venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Winter Garden, in the World Financial Center, in New York, the Yokosuka Arts Theatre in Japan, and Harpa in Reykjavik, Iceland. Kollias has recorded on two previously released CD’s with the GVSU New Music Ensemble, Music for 18 Musicians and In C Remixed, both receiving much critical acclaim. He has premiered multiple works by composers such as Susan Botti, David MacBride, Jessica Rudman, Thomas Schuttenhelm, and Ken Steen. Kollias is a previous winner of the Paranov Concerto Competition, Sewanee Summer Music Festival Concerto Competition, and the Grand Valley State University Concerto Competition.
Along with performing, Kollias has a continuous commitment to pedagogy. His students range from young beginners to university students. He is on faculty at The Hartt School Community Division, The Hotchkiss School, Miss Porter’s School, and Holyoke Community College. His young students are competitive at the district and state levels, and many continue their clarinet studies at the collegiate level.
Kollias holds both a Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMA 2018) and a Master of Music (MM 2013) degree from The Hartt School, where he studied with Ayako Oshima.
Music is an extension of self, and thus an extension of humanity. Music provides both pleasure and requires extensive work. This provides two true statements. One is every student can experience enjoyment through music. Two is music is a natural part of the student. It is important to always begin from these two principles when teaching.
I always work to have my students begin from what is natural. The clarinet is then inserted into these natural movements, or positions. One should not manipulate around the clarinet in such a way that is promoting unnatural movements or tensions. This allows for greater flexibility and precision of the embouchure, jaw, tongue, and fingers. This flexibility of the body allows for a greater spectrum of tone color and depth of sound.
I always work to have my students become independent musicians. I work to provide them with the tools to always be able to answer the questions of what they are doing, how they achieve it, and most importantly, why they want/need to achieve it.