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Meet the Spellers: Niel DePonte, Grammy-nominated percussionist and conductor

January 8, 2016

0809_NielDePonte_JoniKabana_smNiel DePonte is the Principal Percussionist of the Oregon Symphony, a position he has held since 1977. He was nominated in 2003 for a Grammy in the category Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra with James DePreist and the Oregon Symphony.

Niel was born in New York City and attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he earned a Master of Music degree and the Performer’s Certificate. He holds a certificate from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, Professional Development Seminar, The Project Zero Classroom, and a degree in music education from the State University of New York.  His conducting teachers include Leonard Bernstein, Lawrence Leighton Smith, and Helmut Rilling among others.

Conductor, composer, arranger, and performer, Niel is music director and conductor for Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT) and artistic director of the annual Young Artists Debut! Van Buren Concerto Competition in Portland. He is President of MetroArts Inc, a non-profit arts education organization he founded in 1993. Niel has also taught at Harvard University’s seminar for educators, The Project Zero Classroom, and consults on arts education with school districts across Oregon.