There are very few people and musicians with whom I have worked and developed a friendship in the last 50 years as dear as my friendship with James DePreist. For me, he represented the kind of man, warm, giving, caring and honest person that one simply loved being in the presence of. Those rare and very special qualities that compel one to do and be one’s best was striking.
His larger than life personality and relaxed brilliance in his work always came through. For a compelling musical mentor and conductor to achieve the lofty ideals that he embodied so gracefully was unique. James was always there for you, in the music, in the performance, and in being together and getting to know each other more and more deeply over mutual experiences and time.
So relaxed and friendly, his brilliance never drew attention to itself. There are more renowned conductors of complicated works like Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, but his vision of this work was just as marvelous and complete as any I have heard.
I do and will miss him deeply and greatly. The most happy and wonderful experiences in music I lived with him over and over. How do you replace that?