Gregory Oakes, professor of music, is the new recipient of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Jean Bacon Louis Faculty Fellowship in Instrumental and Keyboard Music.
First awarded in 2016, the faculty fellowship was created by Louis (’42 dietetics) to support a faculty member in the field of instrumental and keyboard music. The award can help enrich a professor’s scholarship through travel support, research support, technical assistance, graduate assistance and other support.
Oakes, an internationally-recognized clarinetist, plans to use the fellowship to further his innovation in the arts, specifically the development of a new clarinet.
While on sabbatical in spring 2020, Oakes continued his work to build the Quarter-Tone Extended Clarinet, a new instrument capable of playing notes that lie between the typical notes on the instrument through its entire range. Through collaboration with Denmark-based artisans, Oakes has created an innovative modified clarinet that renders previously problematic notes playable for the first time and allows composers to capitalize on the improved facility in their pieces.
“I feel tremendously honored to have received the Jean Bacon Louis Faculty Fellowship,” Oakes said. “The funding from this award comes at a great time for me, since my research now involves the building of a new clarinet. I traveled to Denmark to pick up my new instrument last year and have been traveling to show it to several composers who are writing new pieces custom tailored to its capabilities.”
Oakes has performed in venues around the world, including in the Netherlands, Germany, Brazil and Thailand. During the summer, he serves on the faculty of The Cortona Sessions festival for new music in Italy. His music has been released on multiple recording labels and broadcast on National Public Radio.
Oakes, currently the principal clarinet of the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra, has also been a member of several orchestras, including the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Ballet, Central City Opera and the Colorado Music Festival. As a founding member of the new music and creative arts ensemble Non Sequitur, he has been in residence at Princeton University, Harvard University, Dartmouth College and the Aspen Music Festival.