Jim Kollias is a Southern California based conductor, instrumental music pedagogue, and woodwind player with a professional career spanning 34 years. Since 2005, he has been the chair of the Visual & Performing Arts Department at Beckman High School where he has also taught orchestra, band, choir, and general music. He has conducted regional honor orchestras and previously taught at Tustin High School, Columbus Tustin Middle School, and Vina Danks Middle School in Ontario, where he began his career in 1988. Jim had also been the Director of the Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Choir in Los Angeles until his retirement in 2021. He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music from UCLA and a Masters Degree in Music Education from the University of Illinois.
Prize winner for the prestigious American Prize in Conducting in 2021, orchestras and bands have consistently received superior ratings under Mr. Kollias’ direction at music festivals and have performed a wide range of repertoire in Washington D.C., New York City, and throughout California. In 2005, the Tustin High School Orchestra was selected to perform at the National Invitational Festival at Carnegie Hall. In 2007, immediately after opening Beckman High School, the Beckman High School Orchestra was invited to play in Carnegie Hall and in 2019, the Beckman Orchestra made their seventh appearance at Carnegie Hall. In 2008, the Beckman High School Patriot Marching Band was selected to perform in the National Cherry Festival Parade in Washington D.C. and performed there again in 2012. In 2014, the orchestra made their debut at Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles and made their 2nd appearance there in 2016. In 2014, the orchestra made their debut at Renee & Henry Segerstrom Hall in Orange County and made their 8th appearance in 2022. In May 2017, the orchestra made their debut at Musco Hall at Chapman University, performing a program with the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Under Mr. Kollias’ leadership, Beckman High School was named a 2016 & 2019 California Exemplary Arts Program and the music department was honored as a 2016 GRAMMY Signature School Semi-Finalist. In 2020 the Beckman High School Orchestra was named a National Finalist for the American Prize in Orchestral Performance and in 2021 was a prize winner for the prestigious American Prize in Orchestral Performance and the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music.
Jim Kollias has been recognized as an outstanding educator numerous time throughout his career. In 2021, along with the American Prize, Kollias was named an Orange County Outstanding Educator by the Orange County Music & Arts Administrators. In 2018, he was named both the Orange County High School Instrumental Music Educator of the Year and the American String Teachers Association Classroom Teacher of the Year. Jim Kollias was twice a finalist for the Orange County Arts Educator of the Year Award, and in 2001 he was honored with the “Toast of the Town” Award by the Town & Country Committee of the Orange County Philharmonic Society for his contributions to music education in the Tustin Unified School District. He was awarded the Vina Danks PTSA Honorary Service Award, was the Columbus Tustin Middle School Teacher of the Year in 1998 and Beckman HS Teacher of the Year in 2006. Kollias is included in numerous editions of Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and Who’s Who in America. In 2006, Kollias was honored by the Con Brio Chapter of the Orange County Philharmonic Society as their honoree for their “Celebrating Volunteerism” event commemorating their 20th Anniversary. In 2008, OC Family Magazine featured Jim Kollias as one of Orange County’s “Ten Heroes Among Us.”
Mr. Kollias has been active in promoting the visual & performing arts in both communities in which he has worked. Jim expanded the string program in the Ontario-Montclair School District to all middle schools and to the high school level from what was once a program that existed only at the elementary level. In 1994, he started the string program in the Tustin Unified School District, which included grant writing, recruitment of students,, and mobilizing support and donations from community service organizations, businesses, and private donors. The program continues today in the district at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. In both school districts he has served as a Mentor Teacher and School Site Council Chairperson. He has also served as the Secondary String Representative for the San Bernardino County Music Educator’s Association, Guest Conductor of the San Bernardino County High School Honor Orchestra, and Vice President of Middle School and Elementary Music for the Southern California School Band & Orchestra Association. Kollias has organized music festivals for the SCSBOA for over 25 years. After working with the late Rita Major of the Orange County Philharmonic Society for 2 years, his dream of a high school orchestra festival in Renee & Henry Segerstrom Hall was realized in 2014. Also in 2014, Jim worked on the committee that helped establish the OC Varsity Arts Artist of the Year.
Mr. Kollias is an active performer on the clarinet and saxophone. His research on the topic of “Nineteenth Century Bands in Orange County,” has been published in the Journal of Band Research. He has presented many clinics for SCSBOA and CMEA Conferences as well as for the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco and southern California universities. His articles on music education have been published in Bandworld Magazine.
Jim Kollias is a prize winner in the 2021 American Prize in Conducting, Youth and School Orchestra Division