James DePreist, a former conductor at the Oregon Symphony, has died, FOX 12 learned Friday.
In a statement, the symphony described DePreist as "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," the statement said.
During his time with the Oregon Symphony, from 1980 to 2003, DePreist moved the orchestra from a small, part-time group to a full-time, nationally recognized orchestra with 17 recordings.
DePreist, who most recently was principal conductor and director emeritus at The Juilliard School, had heart surgery in March of 2012.
Further details about his death weren't immediately available.
His biography on the Juilliard website said he appeared as a guest conductor with every major North American orchestra, as well as dozens internationally.
"He will be missed by the symphony, its musicians, board and staff. We all recognize that we stand here today because of him," the Oregon Symphony statement said.
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