Iowa State professor puts on concert for CD release

Sara Petersen

One clarinet. One music stand. One stage.

That’s all Dr. Gregory Oakes needed to capture his audience Friday night.

In Music Hall Friday at 7:30 PM, Oakes put on a solo concert to celebrate the release of his new CD, “Aesthetic Apparatus.” The pieces on the new CD are all written by one composer, Helmut Lachenmann.

“Lachenmann’s idea is making unusual sounds. He is basically finding sounds out in the world and turning them into music on an instrument,” Oakes said of the pieces on the CD.

“In fact, the title ‘Aesthetic Apparatus’ comes from a quote of Lachenmann’s. When he’s talking about that, he’s really talking about all of the things that are a part of listening to music. There’s the whole musical tradition, the instruments themselves, all of the literature that’s going into it, and people’s taste. All of that is the aesthetic apparatus, which is indeed the title of the CD,” Oakes said.

Oakes has played with many orchestras before, so performing alone on stage is a completely different experience.

“It’s one of those interesting things, because pianists do this all the time,” Oakes said. “I think one of the biggest challenges is the audience might not have any idea what to expect, and sometimes it can be a little bit weird. Sometimes, people may just not like it.”

Oakes sees Friday night’s concert as not just a performance, but as a celebration of his new CD. He had been working on it for four years, and is very proud of everything that was accomplished.

“This project is something that I have really cared about,” Oakes said.

Oakes loves every aspect of creating new sounds and performing, but one of the things he treasures most is working with other composers. Some of the pieces he performed Friday night were written for him, and he looks forward to seeing more of that in the future.

“I love this idea of working with composers,” he said. “Really, going back and forth and developing this whole set of pieces, working with the composers on them was one of my favorite things about it.”

When Oakes considers the future for his music, he looks at it with excitement.

“One of the composers on this CD is starting to write a piece for me now. My next CD project, I want it to be one where all the composers have written all the pieces for me,” Oakes said.

Dr. Oakes has a love for music, especially the new and unusual sounds.

“A lot of times, when people think of a wind instrument concert, they expect it to be played with a piano or other accompanying instrument. People don’t expect a solo clarinet to have a full concert,” he said.

Continuing with the different sounds on the CD, Oakes said, “I think there’s a lot of variety of sounds in the concert. I wanted people to hear this concert and not get bored. I wanted them to be entertained with all the different sounds they were hearing.”