This is very sad news indeed. Former music director and conductor of the Oregon Symphony James DePreist has passed away at the age of 76. DePreist was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2005, recorded more than a dozen albums with the Oregon Symphony, and was also the author of two books of poetry. He will be greatly missed. 

From the Oregon Symphony press release:

It is with great sadness that we learned today of James DePreist’s death. Maestro DePreist led the Oregon Symphony as its Music Director and Conductor from 1980-2003. He is fondly remembered for many extraordinary things. 

A passionate and eloquent man, Jimmy was larger than life and a powerful force for music and the arts in the community of Portland and beyond. 

His work with the orchestra literally put it on the map. Under his leadership the orchestra moved from a small part time group to a full time, nationally recognized orchestra with 17 recordings. 

As a conductor he possessed an amazing ability to evoke the emotional content of the classical repertoire, especially work from the Romantic Period. No one will ever forget his iconic love and passion for Rachmaninoff.

Stories abound about his personal generosity and love for musicians and his extraordinary ability to bring out the best in the people around him.

He will be missed by the Symphony, its musicians, board and staff. We all recognize that we stand here today because of him.

Our hearts and best wishes go out to his wife, Ginette, and his entire family.

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