20 Questions on the 20th with Amanda Collins

This month we feature Amanda Collins, Assistant Teaching Professor of Horn at the University of Missouri School of Music. Ms. Collins is a graduate of the Peabody Institute Preparatory (certificate), Pennsylvania State University (BM), and Southern Methodist University (MM). She performs as third horn with the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, second horn with the American Studio Orchestra, and Principal Horn with the Gateways Festival Orchestra. Additionally, Ms. Collins regularly performs for a variety of chamber groups, musical theaters, gospel and R&B/soul ensembles, pops ensembles and opera companies. Among many other accolades and initiatives, Ms. Collins is routinely a guest speaker at symposiums and events, discussing a wide range of topics including diversity and inclusion in the arts, college auditioning technique, college career management and entrepreneurship for college students and graduates.

1. What was your first instrument and how old were you when you started?

My first instrument was piano. I started group piano classes when I was in pre-school, so about 3!

2. Could you describe what would be your perfect day?

After the pandemic, I would say my perfect day is now spending time with my family. I really miss them, and can’t wait until we can all be together again, maybe at the beach!

3. Most memorable performance?

My most memorable performance is tricky…. there have been so many significant ones. If I had to choose, I think probably playing with the Gateways Festival Orchestra at the Eastman School of Music in 2017, my first season. We played Brahms’ second symphony, and I was principal horn. The Gateways Music Festival was started in the 1990’s to establish and gather a community for classical musicians of African decent. This was my first time playing with an all black orchestra, and it was profoundly impactful on the direction of my career. It also was so great to play in Kodak Hall- wow!

4. Significant teachers/mentors in your life?

Larry Williams is the most significant teacher/mentor in my life. He currently is the artistic director/founder of the DMV Horn Academy. DMV Horn Academy is a center for innovative teaching and mentoring for horn players who want to grow musically and personally while being a member of a positive and supportive community of learners, teachers, and performers. I was a student of the academy and now I am faculty. His wisdom, passion and mentorship have made me the performer and educator I am today. He is also probably the BEST horn player I have every played with!

5. Something you’ve been meaning to try, but just haven’t gotten around to it?

I am super into cars, and I really want to learn how to rally race. One of my cars is a Ford Focus ST. I want to learn how to drive it on different terrain and in a race! 

6. Favorite symphony?

My favorite symphony is again, hard to choose! I think probably Dvorak’s New World. The second movement has roots in African American spirituals, and is one of the most beautiful moments in classical music.

7. Who was the last person that made you cry and why?

The last time I cried was when I attended a protest here in Columbia, MO for Black Lives Matter. Aside from the movement and all that it stands for, I was so moved to see the largest turnout (according to friends who have lived in town for many years) for a protest. It feels good to know I am surrounded by people who have compassion, understanding and support for the black community and persons of color.

8. If money was no object, what would you buy?

If money was no object, I would buy a plot of land down by the Missouri River. I would build a modern house with windows all along the sides, so all you can see is the river and trees. Plenty of outdoor living, covered, a fire pit… a beautiful bathroom with windows. I would make it eco-friendly, energy efficient and solar powered. I would also have a 4-car garage so that I can house my cars, and also have a man-cave area for my husband to hang. I would have a separate studio space for playing, but also yoga, mediation and to keep all my indoor plants.

9. One thing most people don’t know about you?

Most people don’t know that I like to refinish furniture. I have reupholstered vintage chairs, refinished wood and am learning how to rebuild pieces. 

10. Opera or ballet?

Opera!

11. First job?

My first playing job was 3rd horn with the Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra when I was 18.

12. Favorite sports team?

I am not super into sports, but I have been a Washington D.C. football fan since birth!

13. If you could invite one person to dinner tonight, who would it be?

If I could invite one person to dinner tonight, it would probably be my Dad. I miss him so much, and because of COVID-19, I am here in MO and waiting until it’s safe to travel back to the east coast.

14. Coffee or Tea?

COFFEE IS LIFE.

15. Favorite book?

Tricky… I am not a huge reader, but “You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero completely changed my life. She taught me that I can be and have whatever I want out of life. She taught me to live by my own rules, dream big and manifest the things I want. I was really afraid that creating my own multi-faceted career as a horn player would be impossible, but after reading this book over 5 times, and the follow-ups, I have manifested my dream career… and it’s turning out to be even more powerful and significant than I ever imagined!

16. Favorite movie?

Favorite movie… “Seven Samurai”. It’s a vintage film, black and white… also 3 hours. I never thought in a million years I would watch the whole thing. But listen y’all… it was so good!

17. Siblings?

I have a half brother, who is 15 years older.

18. Favorite piece to play?

I love playing anything from the late Romantic era. I am revisiting the Gliere Horn Concerto right now, Strauss 2 up next.

9. Least favorite piece to play?

I don’t like Kopprasch- don’t @ me!

20. Dogs or cats?

Both, but right now dogs because my dog is a jerk and won’t let us have a cat!

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