Ballet West veteran is its new music director

(Photo courtesy Ballet West) Jared Oaks is the new music director at Ballet West.

Jared Oaks, who started out as a rehearsal pianist for Ballet West almost 11 years ago, has been named the troupe’s new music director.

“Jared is one of the youngest conductors of a major American ballet company, and — at any age — he is one of the most skilled,” said artistic director Adam Sklute. “He has a depth of knowledge that is only equal to his energy and commitment to this company.”

Oaks, 36, will lead the 60-member Ballet West Orchestra. Tara Simoncic was named to the position in 2015. Ballet West had auditioned several conductors after the 2012 retirement of longtime music director Terence Kern; Oaks served as Kern’s assistant conductor and Kern helped hone Oaks’ skills, a news release said.

Oaks received a bachelor’s degree in piano performance and a master’s degree in choral conducting from Brigham Young University. He 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.

“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,” Oaks said in a statement. "Although I never planned on a career in ballet, I can’t imagine a better fit for my skills and interests.”

Oaks will officially serve as full-time music director for the company’s 55th season opener, George Balanchine’s “Jewels,” being performed Nov. 2-10.