Originally posted at 4:16 p.m. April 4, 2014. Edited to credit the story to City News Service.
Funeral services were pending today for Paul Salamunovich, a Grammy-nominated conductor and former music director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
Salamunovich died Thursday from complications of West Nile virus, according to the Master Chorale. He was 86.
"All of us in the Los Angeles Master Chorale family mourn the loss of Paul Salamunovich and extend loving condolences to the entire Salamunovich extended family," Master Chorale President/CEO Terry Knowles said. "Paul's impact on the Chorale was long, deep and powerful. Any success our organization enjoys today is rooted in Paul's artistic leadership. We honor his memory and we will never forget him."
Salamunovich was music director of the Chorale from 1991-2001. He also served as director of choral music at St. Borromeo Church in North Hollywood from 1949-2009 and taught at Mount St. Mary's College and Loyola Marymount University. He was an adjunct professor at the USC Thornton School of Music.
Grant Gershon, who took over as the LAMC's music director after Salamunovich, said his predecessor "shaped the sound of choral music in America."
"As both a teacher and performer he was hugely influential, and his signature choral sound lives on through the many conductors and choirs that he inspired," Gershon said. "In particular, his legendary work with LAMC composer-in-residence Morten Lauridsen is the epitome of a successful composer- conductor relationship, and together they brought acclaim to the Los Angeles Master Chorale."
Salamunovich was born in Redondo Beach and sang in a boys choir at St. James Elementary School, where he began developing his passion for Gregorian chant. He also sang at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood.
He enlisted in the Navy after graduating from Hollywood High School and served in Pearl Harbor during World War II.
Upon his return, he joined the Los Angeles Youth Chorus and became a founding member of the Robert Wagner Chorale. He served as the chorale's assistant conductor from 1953-77. He was the first assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Master Chorale when it was established in 1964.
Salamunovich conducted choral music for films including "First Knight," "Air Force One," "A.I.," "Flatliners" and "The Sum of All Fears." He sang on soundtracks for films including "The Great Imposter," "Dead Ringer," "Angels in My Pocket" and "The Last of Shiela."
He is survived by his wife, Dottie; sons John, Stephen, Joseph and Thomas; son-in-law Gordon Goodman; daughters-in-law Claire, Sheila, Meredith and Nancy; 13 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
--City News Service