Widely esteemed as one of America's finest conductors, James DePreist is Director Emeritus of Conducting and Orchestral Studies at The Juilliard School and Laureate Music Director of the Oregon Symphony. He served as Permanent Conductor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra from 2005 until 2008.
As a guest conductor he has appeared with every major North American orchestra, and internationally he has conducted in Amsterdam, Berlin, Budapest, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Manchester, Melbourne, Montreal, Munich, Prague, Rome, Rotterdam, Seoul, Stockholm, Stuttgart, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Tokyo, Toronto and Vienna. He made his London debut with the London Symphony at the Barbican in April 2005.
James DePreist has appeared at the Aspen Music Festival, with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood, the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Music Center, and the Juilliard orchestras at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.
With more than 50 recordings to his credit, James DePreist has a substantial presence in the recording arena. His varied recorded repertoire includes a celebrated Shostakovich series with the Helsinki Philharmonic and 15 recordings with the Oregon Symphony which have helped establish that orchestra as one of America's finest.
Born in Philadelphia in 1936, he studied composition with Vincent Persichetti at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music and earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1962, while on a State Department tour in Bangkok, he contracted polio but recovered sufficiently to win a first prize in the Dimitri Mitropoulous International Conducting Competition. He was selected by Leonard Bernstein to be an assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic for the 1965-66 season. DePreist made his highly acclaimed European debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic in 1969. In 1971 Antal Dorati chose him to become his Associate Conductor with the National Symphony in Washington, D.C.
James DePreist has been awarded 14 honorary doctorates and is the author of two books of poetry. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, and is a recipient of the Insignia of Commander of the Order of the Lion of Finland, the Medal of the City of Quebec and is an Officer of the Order of Cultural Merit of Monaco. In 2005 the President of the United States presented James DePreist with the National Medal of Arts, the nation's highest honor for artistic excellence. He is the nephew of the legendary contralto Marian Anderson.