BOSTON (AP) — The founder and longtime conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Festival Chorus has died.

The BSO announced Thursday that John Oliver died at a Great Barrington hospital on Wednesday after a long illness. He was 78.

john oliver Longtime Conductor Of Tanglewood Festival Chorus Dies

John Oliver. (Photo: Boston Symphony Orchestra)

Oliver founded the entirely volunteer chorus in 1970 and was its only conductor until his retirement in 2015. The chorus maintains a roster of more than 300 singers.

Oliver prepared the chorus for more than 1,000 performances, including appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall, Tanglewood, Carnegie Hall, and on overseas tours.

BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons said Oliver’s contributions “will always be an important part of the orchestra’s great legacy and its mission to realize the very best in the classical music art form.”

A private memorial service is planned.

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