Paul Salamunovich, longtime director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale who helped score movies including "The Godfather," has died. He was 86.
The chorale's publicist, Libby Huebner, says the Grammy-nominated conductor died Thursday of complications related to West Nile virus. From 1991 to 2001, Salamunovich exposed millions to choral music through recordings and live performances.
The New York Times declared the chorus one of America's top vocal ensembles during his final season. Salamunovich also helped score and sing on soundtracks for numerous films, including "The Godfather," "How the West was Won" and "A.I. Artificial Intelligence."
Salamunovich taught music at several colleges, including USC's Thornton School of Music. He was choral music director at St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood for 60 years until retiring in 2009.
Salamunovich had a "tremendous impact, he was really iconic in the world of choral music," said Terry Knowles, president of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. She said he traveled all over north America, working with tens of thousands of students.
"He had a very long and vibrant career," said Knowles, who noted that Salamunovich kept working until about a year ago.
"Paul was a force," she said. "He was at once both a gentle human being and a force of nature. He had a way of growling out things he wanted to happen with a chorus but he was beloved by anyone who sang for him because he was going for the best music making that was possible."