Oregon Symphony


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Musician Moment

Niel DePonte

Principal Percussion

At this moment …

We would find Niel sitting at his office computer emailing the Oregon Symphony percussionists with their assignments for the next classical series concerts and studying ballet scores. "Much of the work I do is in preparation for my performances, assigning 'who plays what' at the symphony, or getting parts produced for the OBT orchestra." More often than not you'll find Niel hard at work advocating for arts education through his non-profit organization MetroArts, which sponsors a young artists concerto competition, kids camp and teacher trainings that demonstrate how to integrate the arts into the regular classroom.

On the CD player …

Niel varies his musical listening with NPR shows, especially All Things Considered and Car Talk, but is really passionate about sports. "I also listen to sports talk radio, especially 1080AM "The Fan," the Jim Rome show and the Dan Patrick show. I'm a sports junkie." His current music listening includes Bach's Concerto for Two Violins in D minor, "Orpheus," a tone poem by Liszt, Hootie and the Blowfish's latest CD and the Broadway musical score to "Wicked."

In the kitchen …

Niel really enjoys using his cookware, bright red Circulon pots and pans to cook Italian food, particularly from the southern region. "I have a couple of good salmon recipes and make a great fish sauce, as well as a mean lasagna."

On the music stand …

Niel divides his practice time between whatever the Symphony is currently working on and the music for Oregon Ballet Theatre's upcoming concerts. Recently Niel was working on the score for Swan Lake, Liszt's "Orpheus," and the Bach Double Violin Concerto in D minor for OBT. Now he's working on the Nutcracker Ballet score for OBT.

And on the nightstand …

Arts and sports. With his subscription to the weekly magazine Sports Illustrated and professional journals on education and the arts, Niel has plenty to read. "I like Brett Favre, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, and I think Ichiro Suzuki is great. I'll drive up to Seattle and see a game twice a year or so. On education, Howard Gardner is my favorite author; I own a number of autographed copies of his books."

Before you left …

Niel would show you his collection of art glass from all over the world, which he adds to whenever he travels. "I have lots of vases and wine glasses and artistically shaped bowls."

Posted December 2004
Niel DePonte

Principal Percussionist Niel DePonte is a veteran of the Oregon Symphony, having joined the orchestra in 1976. He is also music director and conductor for Oregon Ballet Theatre and President of MetroArts, Inc., a non-profit arts education organization that promotes young artists. In 2003 he was nominated for a Grammy for best instrumental solo performance with orchestra for the Svoboda Marimba Concerto on the Albany label.

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