Second-generation professor builds on father's legacy
By Margaret Tate
Nikitas “Nick” Demos and Georgia State go way back. In fact, the coordinator of composition studies and professor of composition in the School of Music has the distinction of being GSU's only legacy professor, his father, clarinetist John Demos, having served as a music educator here from 1961 until his passing in 1988.
“I grew up as a kid coming to Georgia State, which was a vastly different Georgia State than it is now,” Demos remembers.
And although Demos — also a clarinetist — intended to follow in his father's musical footsteps, he never expected them to lead through the very same doors.
It all happened rather serendipitously.
After Demos completed his doctoral degree in composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music in '92, his wife suggested he send out some resumes. “I said that's not how it works in this field — you don't just send out blind resumes,” Demos recalls. “But I did it.”
That approach didn't get him anywhere — except at Georgia State. “The director of the school at that time sent me this long letter saying that he was certainly familiar with my name — so I drove down here to see if I could finagle something.”
Demos started as an adjunct without much hope of a long-term assignment, but “one thing led to another” and now he is well on his way to matching his father's tenure at GSU.
Over the years, both on campus and off, Demos has carved out a unique niche for himself and his music. His compositions, heavily influenced by Greek folk music and Byzantine chants, with splashes of jazz and rock, are commissioned and performed by orchestras far and wide. His band, the Greek Islanders, plays at festivals all over the Southeast, and a renewed friendship on Facebook recently led to his first film score. He founded and directs GSU's neoPhonía New Music Ensemble and has served as director of GSU's Center for Hellenic Studies since its inception in 2002.
His one non-musical interest, he says, is cooking. “I'm a self-taught chef” is his disclaimer. “But I try to do it at the highest level that I possibly can.”
In 2010, upon request, he auctioned a Greek dinner for 10 for GSU's annual opera studies fundraiser. University President Mark Becker was the highest bidder. “I came home and told my wife, ‘Guess who's coming for dinner?'” Demos says with a laugh. “It was a lovely evening.”