Oregon Symphony principal percussionist Niel DePonte has been nominated for a Grammy Award, the symphony announced Thursday.

It is the first time the orchestra or any of its members has been nominated for the prestigious honor.

DePonte was nominated in the category of Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with Orchestra for his work in the recording 'Orchestral Works by Tomas Svoboda' on Albany Records. He is one of five nominees.

'I am completely overwhelmed,' DePonte said following the announcement. 'I had no idea the recording had been submitted.' DePonte, who joined the symphony in 1977 at 24, is also the music director and conductor for Oregon Ballet Theatre.

The Grammy is the recording industry's most prestigious award, and is presented annually by the Recording Academy.

The nominated 2003 recording was conducted by then musical director James DePreist. Under the leadership of DePreist, now the symphony's laureate music director, the orchestra produced 11 recordings beginning in 1987.

'The prestige goes to the orchestra,' says Svoboda, who taught music full time at Portland State University for 27 years before retiring in 1984. 'This is a great moment for our symphony.

'The running joke is that forever more, the name of this organization is 'The Grammy-nominated Oregon Symphony Orchestra,'' says Carrie Kikel, director of public relations for the symphony. 'The Grammy acknowledgment is recognized as a mark of great artistic achievement. To be nominated is about as good as it gets.'

The award ceremony will be held in Los Angeles on Feb. 8.

DePonte will next be seen locally conducting OBT's 'The Nutcracker,' beginning Dec. 11. He next appears with the symphony on Jan. 4.

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