Professor Garyth Nair of Chatham, NJ, a faculty member in the Drew University Music Department and world-renown expert in voice pedagogy and research, died on August 10, 2013 in Overlook Hospital, two weeks after suffering a major stroke. He was 69 and is survived by his wife, Angelika Nair, a mezzo-soprano who also teaches at Drew University and College of St. Elizabeth, and who has been his research collaborator.
Garyth was born in 1943 and raised in Latrobe, PA, where he showed early boyhood interests in the two subjects that matured into lifelong passions: music and physiology. As a young child, he listened again and again to his first record: Beethoven’s First Symphony. He so impressed the residents of a local Benedictine monastery that they opened their doors to him, enabling him to practice the organ there, and to study biology in their well-equipped laboratory. Ultimately, they sponsored his attendance at summer enrichment programs in Princeton, NJ, where his talents came to the attention of Westminster Choir College. And so, he began his post-secondary studies there, majoring in voice. While still a student, he was appointed Assistant Conductor of the famed Westminster Choir, the first student in the college’s history to be so honored. He later studied orchestral conducting with the late Sir Adrian Boult, and completed an M.A. in Musicology at New York University.
For 34 seasons, Garyth served as Music Director of the Summit Chorale, subsequently being named Music Director Emeritus. He led numerous other ensembles over the years, including the Lakeland Youth Symphony; the Chamber Symphony of New Jersey; Heritage Strings (St. Patrick’s Cathedral); and was Assistant Conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra directing their Spotlight concerts for young people and summer tour series.
Garyth made his formal concert debut with the NJSO in 1985 in a performance which “stamps him as an important new force in the New Jersey orchestral scene,” according to critic Peter Edward Frank. Writing for The Star-Ledger, critic Michael Redmond described Garyth Nair as “one of the most brilliant and dynamic conductors on the scene … a musician of extraordinary insight and sensitivity.” His guest conducting has taken him as far as the Philippines, where he conducted the Manila Symphony Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera Chorus of Manila.
Garyth has also been a professional singer in the NYC-area and sang in the most widely-respected professional choral organization in the United States, the prestigious Robert Shaw Chorale.