The Composer Discovery Initiative was founded by three musicians and friends with a mutual passion for neglected composers and their music. Jared Oaks, Zachary Milliman, and Briawna Anderson first conceived of The Initiative in 2013, when their late-night sessions playing and discussing music led to the discovery of many exciting and engaging unpublished works. Upon further investigation, the trio realized that many worthy composers—both past and present—failed to find the audiences and musicians who would most appreciate their music.
In the fall of 2014, Milliman spearheaded a symposium on neglected opera (Opera Periphereia) at the University of Alaska, where he teaches. This event, which featured lectures and performances from all three of CDI's founding members, served as a test run for launching a larger organization. After the incredible success of this first venture, the trio realized there was a wide demand for research and resources on overlooked and neglected music.
Anderson, Oaks and Milliman decided to leverage their unique combined skills and experience to create a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to breathing life into forgotten music and creating a market for new commissions. The Composer Discovery Initiative was formally launched in 2015, with an inaugural lecture-recital held in Salt Lake City, Utah, CDI's headquarters.
Why so many great works remained obscure was no mystery to the three experienced musicians. A lack of marketing and public relations resources leave many composers without access to distribution channels, and as a result, many of their works languish in private collections and libraries, unheard and unknown. The task of bringing these hidden gems to light is multi-facetted and complex; it requires sound scholarship, savvy business skills, a robust marketing machine, knowledge of music engraving and recording, and a strong relationship with performers. Few existing organizations are equipped to take on the task. Realizing this, CDI's founders decided to create one from the ground up, utilizing their combined skills as performers, conductors, musicologists, bussiness executives, and music technologists. As active members of the arts community in Salt Lake City and beyond, the trio also leverages the talents of a national network of musicians and music-lovers.
Briawna Anderson – Founding Director
Research & Special Projects
Briawna Anderson oversees the general musicological research division and provides guidance on projects that develop scholastic research into performances, publications, and other resources for musicians and the community.
Ms. Anderson holds a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance and a Master of Arts in musicology from the University of Utah. She is also a university-trained harpist and has toured with the Crimson Harps ensemble. Briawna travels globally as a performer, researcher, and lecturer. Her work emphasizes the music of lesser-known American composers and seeks to broaden public knowledge and popularity of obscure musical figures.
Her thesis, "Troubled Authenticity and the Romanticized West: Reevaluating Charles Wakefield Cadman's 1918 Opera Shanewis" unpacked the complexities of racial representation in early twentieth-century music and theater, and argued for the resurrection of this and other forgotten works. A version of this research was featured at the 2014 national conference of the Society for American Music in Lancaster, PA to great acclaim. Later that same year, Briawna presented her research alongside a performance of several arias from Shanewis at the first Opera Periphereia symposium in Anchorage, AK. She has presented on Jenny Lind's American tour for the Rocky Mountain chapter of the American Musicological Society in Greeley, CO.
Briawna views performance and research as intimate partners and is constantly engaged in merging the two disciplines; music is meant to be heard, and her research is crafted to accommodate that end.
Jared Oaks – Founding Director
Artistic Direction & Community Liaison
Jared manages the production of public performances of CDI-sponsored works and coordinates research and resources to support the publication of relevant music manuscripts. He also provides artistic direction and is the liason to CDI's wonderful network of supporters.
Jared Oaks, a native of Tacoma, Washington, is Associate Music Director of Ballet West. Since joining the company in 2008, Jared has conducted numerous performances of major ballet and symphonic repertoire at the Capitol Theatre and Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, the Kennedy Center, and Chicago's Auditorium Theatre. As piano soloist, he has appeared in Balanchine's The Four Temperaments, Ben Stevenson's Three Preludes, and Helen Pickett's But Never Doubt I Love. Beyond his active conducting and rehearsal schedule, Jared has played for ballet classes at the Royal Danish Ballet, Balettakademien Stockholm, the Pacific Northwest Ballet Summer Intensive, Brigham Young University, the University of Utah, Regional Dance America, Burklyn Ballet Theatre, and the Barlow Arts Conservatory.
In addition to conducting studies with renowned ballet conductor Terence Kern, his chief teachers and mentors include Richard Anderson, Ronald Staheli, Rosalind Hall, Duane Hulbert, and Marjorie Skreen-Dickerson. A composer and avid researcher, particularly engaged in Scandinavian and Utah music history, Jared is currently preparing a new anthology of early Swedish operatic arias with the help of a generous fellowship from the American-Scandinavian Foundation.
Zachary Milliman – Founding Director
Director of Opera Periphereia
Zachary heads the Opera Periphereia division of CDI—a branch dedicated solely to the discovery and promotion of pheripheral opera repertoire. He coordinates a diverse array of projects, from recordings and performance to formal scholarship and publication.
Zachary Milliman received his M.M. from the University of Utah after completing his B.M. at Brigham Young University. His research focuses on marginalized opera repertories and has been featured in two conferences for the American Musicological Society, the Confutati Symposium, and the symposium he created, Opera Periphereia. The Journal for the International Allegiance of Women in Music published his article Victoria for Mrs. President: Modern Women at the Opera. His current research projects are centered on Hungarian opera, and this fall will live in Budapest as a Fulbright scholar chronicling the history and development of Hungarian opera. Upon his return, he plans to attend McGill University to complete a PhD in musicology.
For the past three years, Zachary lived in Anchorage, Alaska working a lecturer and music instructor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, as well as private instructor, coach and clinician. Zachary was the Artistic Director for Bel Canto Alaska, and Music Director for First United Methodist Church. As a tenor, he has sung leading roles in Don Giovanni, Cosi fan tutte, Le Nozze di Figaro, Dialogues des Carmelites, The Gondoliers, Il Mondo della Luna, and others. He has been featured as a soloist in such works as Carmina Burana, Messiah, and St. Matthew Passion. He was recently heard in Anchorage Opera’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors, as the tenor soloist in the Anchorage Concert Chorus production of Bach’s St. John Passion. In the fall of 2014, the University of Alaska sponsored his tour of Alaska featuring twentieth-century chamber music for tenor and guitar with Dr. Armin Abdihodzic.