Rodney Oakes
Existential Overture:
3 tenors, 1 bass trombone

Verona, NJ, United States
Publisher: Seesaw Music
Date of Publication: 2019


Primary Genre: Trombone Ensembles

Trombonist/composer/author/educator Rodney Oakes (b.1937) holds BA and MA degrees in music from San Diego State University, and the DMA from University of Southern California. He has taught electronic music and directed the PACE (Program for Accelerated College Education) at Los Angeles Harbor College where he currently is an Emeritus Professor and teaches humanities and music. As a composer, Oakes has worked in a wide range of mediums and composed chamber music, musicals, works for jazz ensemble as well as numerous works for trombone and electronics. As a trombonist, Oakes has pioneered the use of the trombone combined with electronic devices and has performed throughout the United States and Europe. His works are published by Seesaw and Kjos and a number have been recorded on the Cambria, Living Music, iii Records, Nine Winds and Innova labels. He has won numerous awards including a Rockefeller Grant; an NEA grant; a Fulbright Senior Lectureship to the Academy of Music in Krakow, Poland; and ASCAP Standard Awards since 1987.

The composer writes the following about this work: Existential Overture developed with my annoyance at the use of the term existential in the press recently. Everything has become an existential crisis, but I am quite certain that the politicians and reporters who are using this phrase are not really familiar with existentialism as a philosophy. Consequently, the meaning of the term changes. The work itself is simply an exploration of contrasting themes. It was performed at the International Trombone Festival at the University of Iowa in 2018 by the Elysian Trombone Consort.

The piece alternates between dance-like sections in 7/8 meter with lyrical and dramatic music mostly in 4/4. All parts share in the melodic material, which is chromatic, while its harmonic content is often quartal. The technical challenges are moderate; a good undergraduate level quartet could bring this off quite well. Paper, layout and printing are all first class.

Reviewer: Karl Hinterbichler
Review Published August 1, 2020