Constance Demby, pioneering composer and musician, died peacefully on March 20 at the age of 81. Her 1986 album Novus Magnificat: Through the Stargate, is regularly listed among the most influential New Age and ambient albums of all time.
Blending classical, New Age and electronic music, Demby’s compositions have influenced many generations of composers. She performed at events with the Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra, and Todd Rundgren, often in dramatic settings, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and Stonehenge.
Demby performed on instruments of her own creation. Stemming from her early training as a sculptor, Demby’s most prominent innovation was the Sonic Steel Space Bass, made of sheet metal with tuned steel rods, played with mallets and a bow. The Space Bass emits a wide variety of sounds that resemble wind chimes, thunder, whale cries, and human voices.
Constance Demby was also proficient on the hammered dulcimer, tamboura, and keyboards. Her travels to India, Spain, and Portugal, experiences with sound healing, and a love of Gregorian chants influenced her unique musical style.
Stephen Hill, founder of Hearts of Space, said, “Constance Demby was gifted with an intuitive musical sense of sound and melody that moved people deeply. Beginning in experimental improvisation and contemplative acoustic music, she incorporated classical orchestration, symphonic composition, and the expanded sonic dimensions of electronic space into her music. Her 1986 "cosmic choral symphony" Novus Magnificat elevated the standards of scope and production in the early New Age genre and has become a timeless classic.
She recorded over a dozen albums, including the landmark Constance Demby at Alaron, Sacred Space Music, Set Free, Light of This World, Skies Above Skies, Aeterna, Faces of the Christ, Attunement, Spirit Trance, Sonic Immersion, Ambrosial Waves, Live in Tokyo (also on DVD) and Sanctum Sanctorum.
Constance is survived by her son Joshua Demby, grandson Jonah Demby, and nephews Bill, Dave and Christopher Eggers.
Constance marked an epoch and marked my life. Gratitude for having lived at the same time as her: such a sensitive person who brought us a little celestial music through her sensitivity and direct connection with the high spirits. Rest in peace and receive our peace vibrations.
Your music will forever remain in our hearts and souls. Rest in God’s love Constance.
“Novus Magnificat” is a still unsurpassed “jewel” and will stay forever as one of the 5 best “new age” abums. Goodbye Constance, you will stat forever in our hearts.
1982 I was blessed to play flute with Connie in Boston and New York. Betty Drew was also part of the group Ganhardava.
Discovered Constance Demby’s music just a couple of months prior to her passing through her excellent “Sacred Pace Music” album, and fell in love instantly. When I heard about her passing I felt deep sadness. I was a bit overwhelmed at first to have such a strong response to a person I never met. Then I put on my “Novus Magnificat: Through the Stargate” CD and listened all the way through. When it was over I wasn’t surprised at all anymore by my reaction. Listening to Constance Demby’s music opens one heart, to the music, and to the composer as well evidently.
RIP Constance. We never met, but I will never forget you.