Steven McGregor Demorest, professor of music education at the Bienen School of Music, died September 22, 2019 in Evanston, Illinois with his family and loyal dog by his side. He was 60 years old.
Born August 24, 1959 in Detroit, Michigan, Demorest devoted his life to his career and his family. He had a sharp wit and loved travel and golf. He completed his undergraduate degree at Luther College, where he worked closely and built a lifelong relationship with Weston Noble. He received his master’s degree from Westminster Choir College and had the exceptional experience of performing at the Spoleto Festival and in New York City. He completed his PhD at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he credits his advisor for teaching him how to ask hard questions that better the work.
Demorest began his career at the University of North Texas and spent 21 years at the University of Washington. He joined the Bienen School of Music faculty in fall 2014 and served as coordinator of the music education program. Throughout his life, Demorest tenaciously and honestly pursued the highest quality research. He had a curious mind and published regularly. His research interests included the assessment and remediation of inaccurate singing, cultural neuroscience of music, music cognition, and sight-singing pedagogy. He was most notably driven by the belief that singing should not be reserved for a chosen few, but can be a communal way to celebrate, mourn, find joy, and express ourselves. He will be remembered by his family and many others through song.
A nationally known clinician, Demorest lectured at the American Choral Directors Association National Conference, the Music Educators National Conference, and at many state and regional ACDA and MENC conferences. He served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Research in Music Education, the Music Educators Journal, Musicae Scientiae, Empirical Musicology Review, Reviews of Research in Human Learning and Music, and the International Journal of Research on Choral Singing. He also served on the executive committees for the Society for Research in Music Education and the International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition.
Demorest spent many years missing his sister, Julie, who preceded him in death. He is survived by his parents, Allan Demorest and Laurel Demorest; wife, Karen Tollenaar Demorest; daughters, Jessica Tollenaar Cafferty and Claire McGregor Demorest; son-in-law Jacob Cafferty; grandson, Varden Cafferty; dog, Akila; and extended family and friends who love him deeply.
A memorial service was held October 13 at the Mary B. Galvin Recital Hall.