Monday, May 2, 2011

Juilliard Journal Online: 'James DePreist Looks Back—and Forward'

[James DePreist has been the director of orchestral and conducting studies since 2004. After the commencement concert, which takes place on May 19, he becomes the principal conductor and director emeritus. (Photo by Nan Melville)]

Vol. XXVI No. 8
May 2011
“Commencement is typically a time for celebration and reflection. At Juilliard, the festivities traditionally begin with an orchestra concert, which for many of the players is their last performance with the Juilliard Orchestra before embarking on professional careers. This year’s concert, which will feature Brahms’s Violin Concerto and Saint-Saëns’s 'Organ' Symphony, is unique in that both maestro and musicians will be observing milestones. At the end of this season, James DePreist, who has been director of orchestral and conducting studies since 2004, will pass the literal and figurative baton to Alan Gilbert, music director of the New York Philharmonic, and will assume the title of principal conductor and director emeritus of the Juilliard Orchestra.

“DePreist will mark a second milestone in November with his 75th birthday, and he took the opportunity, in a recent conversation with The Journal, to reflect. A birthday 'forces you to look back,' he said. 'At 75, you say, “What have I accomplished with my life and what is there that I can still do that I have not yet done?”'

“It would be easy for DePreist to rest on his laurels. His career has spanned five decades and several continents, and has seen him as music director of the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, the Malmo Symphony Orchestra, the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Oregon Symphony, for which he is the laureate music director. His recorded legacy includes collaborations with the Helsinki Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra, and in 2005 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the country’s highest honor for artistic excellence. While proud of these achievements, he doesn’t dwell upon them. 'You can’t accomplish very much in life if you’re constantly patting yourself on the back for what you’ve already done,' he said. 'You have to keep your eyes forward.'”

“As principal conductor and director emeritus, DePreist will continue to be a familiar face at Juilliard for at least the next several seasons. After this month’s concert, his next scheduled appearance with the Juilliard Orchestra is in December at Carnegie Hall.” [ profiles James DePreist (b. 1936), who also has his own website,]

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