Grammy Award Nominee
He is the Principal Percussionist of the Oregon Symphony, a post to which he was appointed in 1977 at the age of 24. Mr. DePonte was born in New York City and received his training at the Eastman School of Music where he earned a Master of Music degree and the Performers Certificate. He also holds a degree in education from the State University of New York College at Fredonia. He has appeared with the Oregon Symphony and other orchestras numerous times as a marimba and percussion soloist, playing a varied repertoire including his own compositions. He appears regularly as solo percussionist for Chamber Music Northwest.
Mr. DePonte is an artist/clinician for the Yamaha Corporation and performs on a Yamaha concert marimba. His principal teachers and influences have been Fred Hinger, formerly Principal Timpanist of the Metropolitan Opera and Philadelphia Orchestras; John Beck, formerly Principal Timpanist, The Rochester Philharmonic; Bill Cahn, formerly Principal Percussionist of The Rochester Philharmonic and a member of the Nexus Percussion Group; and Leigh Stevens, marimba virtuoso.
Whether conducting ballet, opera, pops or symphonic repertoire; composing or arranging; or performing as a concerto soloist with major orchestras; Niel DePonte has gained a national reputation as one of his generations most versatile musical artists. His musical arrangement for Houston Ballets full-length production of Peter Pan, which premiered in March, 2002, is his latest in a series of compositions, compilations and arrangements written for the ballet stage. Many of these arrangements were commissioned and premiered by Oregon Ballet Theatre for whom he is their Music Director and Conductor.
DePonte has appeared as a guest conductor with the symphonies of Oregon, Syracuse, Spokane, Charlotte, Anchorage, Dayton, and Tulsa, as well as the Eugene, Boston and San Francisco Ballet Orchestras. He has conducted on the international stage, particularly in Russia, appearing at the Mussorgsky (Maly) Theatre in St. Petersburg and at the Nureyev Ballet Festival in Kazan. His opera background includes three seasons as music director of the Bel Canto Northwest Vocal Institute and he was the founding music director of the West Coast Chamber Orchestra, serving in that capacity from 1980-1990. His conducting teachers include Leonard Bernstein, Helmut Rilling, David Effron, Christopher Wilkins, and Neal Gittleman among others.
A long-time advocate for arts-education, and a mentor to many young musicians, DePonte is also the artistic director of the Young Artists at the Schnitz concerto competition held in Portland, Oregon. As president of MetroArts Inc, a non-profit arts-education organization founded by DePonte in 1993, he has done considerable research on the use of the arts for teaching cognitive strategies diligently working with teachers and school districts to infuse the arts into classroom instruction. He holds a degree in education, with honors, from the State University of New York. In the summer of 2001, DePonte taught at Harvard Universitys seminar for educators, The Project Zero Classroom. 2002 marked the 10th anniversary of his MetroArts Kids Camp, designed to introduce children ages 7-12 to the vast array of creative processes used by artists in the fine and performing arts. Mr DePonte currently resides in Portland, Oregon, USA.
"All-Svoboda" orchestral CD recording by Oregon Symphony; Albany Records (Troy 604): since its Aug. 2003 release to radio stations in U.S., 57 stations in 31 states (+2 international stations) have scheduled or aired 1, 2 or all 3 works from this CD; 93 airings; including 8 state-wide public radio networks (Oregon, Montana, Arizona, Kansas, Indiana, Wisconsin Georgia and West Virginia), plus 1 internet radio station (Beethoven.comŽ). Tracking represents 1/2 the U.S. classical radio market.
WGBH-FM (Boston, MA)
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