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Former Oregon Symphony Music Director DePreist Dies At 76

OPB | Feb. 8, 2013 11:24 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 8, 2013 2:43 p.m. | Portland

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A decorated former music director of the Oregon Symphony has died at his home in Arizona. James DePreist was 76.

James DePreist

James DePreist

Courtesy Julliard

 Known for his warm, laid-back nature and his stewardship of the Symphony, Depreist was well-loved in Oregon.

Depreist’s manager confirmed the conductor died of complications stemming from a heart attack he suffered last year. DePreist went through bypass surgery in 2012, and had a history of kidney disease.

Depreist’s career in Oregon from 1980 to 2003 was a chapter in a life fully engaged in music. The nephew of singer Marian Anderson, he attended the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music, and earned degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

Appointments followed with the New York Philharmonic, the National Symphony, and other groups. He made more than 50 recordings and was recognized in 2005. with the National Medal of Arts.

Flowers left in memory of DePreist.

Flowers left in memory of DePreist.

April Baer / OPB

In 2003, he told Oregon Art Beat he hoped to leave the Oregon Symphony with a reputation for high musical - as well as personal - standards.

“That’s been the guiding principle for me. Things will happen or they will not happen. Your responsibility is to see that what you bring to the enterprise is integrity-filled,” DePreist said.

He’s survived by his wife, Ginette.

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