by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - James DePreist, former Oregon Symphony conductor, died Friday in New York City. He led the Oregon Symphony from 1980 to 2003.Former Oregon Symphony conductor James DePreist died Friday. The 76-year-old composer and writer was director of conducting and orchestral studies at The Juillard School in New York City.

DePreist died early Friday morning at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., from complications related to a heart attack he suffered last spring.

DePreist was music director and conductor of the Oregon Symphony from 1980 to 2003. Under his leadership the orchestra moved from a small part-time group to a full-time, nationally recognized orchestra with 17 recordings.

He was awarded a National Medal of Arts in 2005 and published two volumes of poetry.

Oregon Symphony Vice President of Communications Jim Fullan said DePreist “will be missed by the symphony, its musicians, board and staff. We all recognize that we stand here today because of him.”

(Editor's note: An early version of this story incorrectly listed where DePreist died.)

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