Elizabeth Oakes

Director of University of Iowa String Quartet Residency Program
Professor of Instruction

Elizabeth Oakes, violist, is an active chamber musician, chamber music coach, and performer.  A dedicated teacher, Ms. Oakes currently runs the Chamber Music Residency Program at the University of Iowa and serves as the director of the University of Iowa String Quartet Residency Program (UISQRP). For twenty-two years, Ms. Oakes was the violist of the Maia Quartet and as a member of the Quartet, she performed throughout the United States, Asia, Canada, and Europe and concertized in major venues including Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, the 92nd Street Y and Washington DC’s Kennedy Center. Collaborations with other artists included Maia Quartet performances with Daniel Avshalomov, Joel Krosnick, Helen Callus, Andre-Michel Schub, and Robert Kapilow. Ms. Oakes has taught at numerous summer music festivals including the Interlochen Advanced String Quartet Program, the Great Wall International Music Academy in Beijing, China, and the Rocky Mountain Summer Conservatory in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. She currently directs the Green Lake Festival of Music Chamber Music Institute—a two-week summer chamber music institute located in central Wisconsin. Ms. Oakes' programming and interdisciplinary interests have led her to coordinate and program many large-scale projects. In 1997, Ms. Oakes co-founded and then subsequently served for nine years as a co-artistic director of the Foothills Music Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In her current role as the director of UISQRP, Ms. Oakes has created multi-dimensional artist-residencies with quartets from across the US and abroad, including the Brentano Quartet, JACK Quartet, the Cavani Quartet, the Parker Quartet, the Elias Quartet, the Dalí Quartet, the Daedalus Quartet, the Spektral Quartet, the Ariel Quartet, the Jupiter Quartet, the Jasper Quartet, the Pacifica Quartet, the Miró Quartet, and the Castalian Quartet. During her tenure at the University of Iowa, Ms. Oakes has coordinated several large events, including Scandinavian/NordicFest—a month-long festival with chamber music at the heart of all events, which included film, theater, dance, lectures, recitals, and outreach. Ms. Oakes also teamed up with the University of Iowa Music Therapy department to present Music, Healthcare, and Well-Being, programming focused on the relationship between music and health. She has been the recipient of numerous grants from major granting organizations, such as Chamber Music America, the Iowa Arts Council, Humanities Iowa, the University of Iowa’s Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Professorship Program, and the John and Anna Hanes Foundation. Ms. Oakes has received repeated recognition for her work at the University of Iowa. In 2016, she was awarded the Dean’s Distinguished Lecturer award in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and in 2022-21, she was awarded the President & Provost Award for Teaching Excellence. Most recently, she was selected as Distinguished Professor of Instruction upon her promotion to full professor.  Ms. Oakes has given numerous master classes and presentations across the country including Peabody Conservatory of Music, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, Harvard University, Arizona State University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and most recently at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. Ms. Oakes is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory, where she received a Bachelor of Music degree in viola performance as a student of Jeffrey Irvine. She continued with a Master of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music with Heidi Castleman and a Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Conservatory of Music. At the Juilliard School, she served as a teaching assistant to Sam Rhodes of the Juilliard Quartet. As part of the Maia Quartet, she worked intensively with the Cavani Quartet, the Juilliard Quartet, the Tokyo Quartet, and Earl Carlyss.

Research areas
  • Strings
Portrait of Elizabeth Oakes
Contact Information

University of Iowa
5467 Voxman Building (VOX)
93 E. Burlington Street
Iowa City, IA 52240
United States