Gregory Oakes


Clarinet, Principal

Gregory Oakes is one of the most exciting and energetic clarinetists of his generation. From his Carnegie Hall debut with members of Ensemble Intercontemporain and Pierre Boulez to his performances as a member of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Oakes has been praised by critics for his “outstanding performance” (The New York Times) and “jazzy flourishes” (Denver Post).

He has appeared as a concerto soloist with such esteemed ensembles as the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the Denver Brass, performed with Grammy® Award-winner Terence Blanchard at the Telluride Jazz Festival, played at Amsterdam’s venerable new music hall, De IJsbreker, and been a featured soloist at the prestigious MaerzMusik festival in Berlin. He has been featured as a soloist at multiple International Clarinet Association ClarinetFests, the University of Oklahoma Clarinet Symposium, the International Computer Music Conference, Amsterdam’s Gaudeamus International Interpreters’ Competition, the Karnatic Lab concert series (Amsterdam), the Crested Butte Chamber Music Festival, Boulder’s Modern Music Festival (M2F), and Colorado Music Festival’s Young Artist Series.

Dr. Oakes has also toured Brazil and been in residence at Princeton University, Harvard University, Dartmouth College, and the Aspen Music Festival. In the summer, he is on the faculty of The Cortona Sessions festival for new music in Tuscany, Italy. Dr. Oakes’ recordings have been released on Bridge, CRI, Gothic, Karnatic Lab Records, and Naxos and broadcast on National Public Radio. His solo CD New Dialects appears on the Centaur Records label. Dr. Oakes is on the faculty of Iowa State University and is principal clarinet of the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra. He is a Buffet Crampon and Vandoren Performing Artist.

Member of the Orchestra since


Most memorable experience with the Orchestra

My first performance with the orchestra was the Des Moines Symphony's Yankee Doodle Pops for Independence Day. I was jet lagged after getting back into town just 12 hours earlier, and the weather was so hot that my clarinet felt hot in my hands. It was a surreal concert!

How I got started playing my instrument

The band director from my local high school in Los Alamos, New Mexico held a summer class that offered 5th graders the opportunity to try all the band instruments to find which one they liked best. I went in thinking I wanted to play trombone (my dad had one in the closet), but I could play "Twinkle Twinkle" on the clarinet, so I went with that.

Favorite composer

Iannis Xenakis

Favorite solo piece

Eric Mandat's Folk Songs


Yoga, cycling, kick boxing, cooking, drawing, sculpting, computer programming Yoga, Cycling, Kick Boxing, Cooking, Drawing, Sculpting, Computer Programming

Other than classical music _____ is on my iPod

Experimental music

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