James DePreist

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James DePreist (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - One of the early African-American conductors of a major orchestra and National Medal of Arts winner James DePreist has died at age 76.

His manager, Jason Bagdade, says DePreist died at home Friday in Scottsdale, Ariz.

DePreist's wife, Ginette DePreist, told The Oregonian (http://is.gd/unaJkQ ) her husband had been in and out of the hospital since a massive heart attack last March followed by open-heart surgery.

DePreist was director emeritus of The Juilliard School's conducting program in New York. He was the Oregon Symphony's music director from 1980 until 2003, transforming it from a part-time group into a full-time professional ensemble. DePreist also led orchestras in Quebec, Monte Carlo, Tokyo and Malmo, Sweden.

He was the nephew of the celebrated contralto Marian Anderson, who died in 1993.

STEVEN DUBOIS, Associated Press

Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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