“He’s a fine citizen musician.” —Mason Bates, Grammy-winning composer
Collin Whitfield's compositions have been described by librettist Nicholas Giardini as "beautiful, rapturous and unabashedly romantic, without any of the failings that so often accompany these qualities." He is a recipient of the 2019 James Highsmith Award from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for his orchestral work, Eclipse. The piece was one of two winning compositions selected for a tie, which was unprecedented in the competition’s history. It will receive its world premiere by the Berkeley Symphony side-by-side with SFCM musicians in January 2020. In 2018, his setting of Emily Dickinson’s Because I could not stop for Death for SATB accompanied chorus was selected as the winning piece for the annual ACDA Choral Composition Competition at Central Michigan University. In addition, Collin was a First Prize recipient of the 2015 Biennial Art Song Composition Competition at the SF Conservatory for his piece Echo. In 2014, he was commissioned by the International Low Brass Trio, and his resulting work Chorale and Fanfare was praised by the San Francisco Examiner for being “a rethinking of form [combining] genres into a distinctively unique texture."
Collin’s versatility as a musician extends beyond composing. His innumerable skills and experience as a pianist, conductor, organist, and vocalist have earned him numerous accolades. Vance George, SF Symphony Chorus Director Emeritus, remarked of Collin’s accompanying: "in all my years spent with the Verdi Requiem, I've never heard anyone play it better." His conducting has been praised by Dr. Jacques Desjardins as demonstrating "poise, command, and charisma, warranting engaging renditions of a wide variety of repertoire under his direction." He also received a First Prize scholarship for Voice and a subsequent Honorary Scholarship from the Rochester Tuesday Musicale in Michigan.
Collin has been privileged to accompany the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra under the direction of Ming Luke, as well as Chora Nova and the California Bach Society—both under the direction of Dr. Paul Flight. He has also played under the baton of maestro Ragnar Bohlin, Grammy-winning Director of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. Recently, he moved back to his home state of Michigan, to the Tri-Cities area, where he has accompanied for the Saginaw Choral Society under the direction of Jeremiah Kraniak. In March, he was featured as a tenor soloist at the Midland Center for the Arts in a production of Rob Gardner’s Lamb of God—a contemporary oratorio for orchestra, chorus, and soloists that retells the final days, death, and resurrection of Christ. He also enjoys collaborating on recitals with his wife, soprano Erin Whitfield.
Currently, Collin is Director of Music Ministries at First Presbyterian Church of Saginaw, Michigan. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Composition degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied with notable composers David Conte and Mason Bates. He received Departmental Honors in Music Theory while at SFCM and served as a tutor for the department. Following his degree, he was awarded the 2017-18 Tacoma AGO scholarship and applied this towards organ studies with Dr. Paul Tegels. He is now a candidate for the Master of Music in Organ Performance degree at Central Michigan University, where he studies with Dr. Steven Egler.