Ballet West has announced the promotion of Jared Oaks to Music Director. Oaks was hired by Artistic Director Adam Sklute as rehearsal pianist almost 11 years ago and soon after began as Ballet West’s principal rehearsal pianist and assistant conductor to the company’s then-longtime and beloved Music Director Maestro Terence Kern, who helped hone Oaks’ talent and skills.”
Oaks received his bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Brigham Young University. He was hired by Ballet West while still working towards his mater’s degree in choral conducting, which he received in 2009.
Adam Sklute said, “Since I hired Jared ten years ago, Terry and I had been nurturing his incredible talents for this day. Jared is one of the youngest conductors of a major American ballet company, and—at any age—he is one of the most skilled. He has a depth of knowledge that is only equal to his energy and commitment to this company. Jared has broad musical interests and extraordinary musicianship. I know he will continue to strengthen, elevate, and galvanize the Ballet West Orchestra to truly world class status.”
Oaks has conducted at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre, the Wortham Theater in Houston, and the Northrop Auditorium in Minneapolis, among others. In addition to his busy conducting schedule, Oaks is a sought-after ballet and collaborative pianist. Oaks is also an active composer, and his first ballet, In Memoriam, scored for four violins and piano, premiered in 2016 at Ballet West. An avid researcher, Oaks is a fellow of the American-Scandinavian Foundation and co-founder of the music publication and research nonprofit, Composer Discovery Initiative.
“I have been fortunate to work with a wonderful artistic director, dedicated and knowledgeable staff, and first-rate mentors. The opportunity to work with such brilliant dancers and musicians over the past decade has been a constant source of inspiration. The repertoire we do here is special to me, and there is a great respect between those of us in the pit, onstage, and behind the scenes. I am grateful to have had teachers who prepared to work in this difficult yet incredibly rewarding art form. Although I never planned on a career in ballet, I can’t imagine a better fit for my skills and interests,” said Oaks. “My mentor Terry told me once during a rehearsal of Sir Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella, ‘Don’t forget the magic of it.’ I think I’ve stayed true to that wisdom, and I look forward to many exciting seasons to come.”
Oaks’s promotion becomes official as full-time Music Director for Ballet West’s 55th season opener, George Balanchine’s Jewels, which begins on November 2nd and runs through November 10th. Tickets are available at balletwest.org