When Garah and Greg Landes were growing up in Irvington, performing on Broadway and Lincoln Center were far from their thoughts. They were just kids attending the Main Street School and eventually, for Garah, the older of the two brothers, Irvington High School.
“I experienced Irvington as almost a magical town,” said Garah. “It was very beautiful, full of adventure. We even had Stan Getz, the famous tenor saxophonist as a neighbor. I have a very distinct memory of my father calling me out to the back porch to hear Getz practicing. It was just a great place to grow up.”
Today Garah, who plays piano and Greg, who’s a percussionist, are professional musicians. But as kids, they were typical members of the school band and played in all the musicals. Both have fond memories of the teachers from Main Street School. “Both Garah and I were taught by John Nurmi in middle school,” noted Greg. “He was the choral teacher and was a very informative and influential teacher. He encouraged me to play drums with the chorus which was the first time they ever had a drummer join the concerts. I had my first formative musical experiences with him. He even introduced me and our class to Stevie Wonder, by playing the song ‘Superstition’ in class.”
Outside of school, another Tarrytown institution played a major role on Garah’s musical training. “After high school, I began studying at Helen Ringeisen’s Mozartina Conservatory. A teacher I met there brought me to Long Island where I did my undergraduate studies. That was a really important connection for me in Tarrytown.” Helen also has fond memories of Garah and his time at Mozartina. She recalls that “Garah was a very gifted and dedicated student.”
After playing together on and off for many years beginning when Greg was 12 and Garah was 18, the brothers eventually launched their own piano and percussion duo called Synchronicity. They both also play in a chamber ensemble called the Pit Stop Players. Now in their tenth season, the Pit Stop Players allows Broadway musicians the opportunity to stop playing in the pit to take center stage and perform contemporary and classical chamber music on their off night, Monday. The Pit Stop Players, a crossover ensemble in the best sense of the word, draws on the best traditions of contemporary, classical, jazz, rock, fusion, and film music, as well as Broadway.
On May 13, the Landes brothers will present the American premiere of Canadian composer Kevin Lau’s “Illumination.” The piece anchors the Pit Stop Players’ concert at Manhattan’s DiMenna Center for Classical Music. A piece written by famed Broadway orchestrator Jonathan Tunick will also be performed. Conductor and founder of the Pit Stop Players Josh Rosenblum is thrilled to have the brothers perform “Illumination.”
“Since Garah and Greg are members of the Pit Stop Players, this presents a great opportunity for Synchronicity to perform with us,” noted Rosenblum. “Greg and Garah are exceptional musicians both individually and as a duo, and it’s always exciting to work with them. They are electrifying when they play.”
Tickets to Illumination and the Pit Stop Players are available at http://rosenblummusic.com/pit-stop-players/.