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Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 2005)

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John Langstaff (6)
California Revels (2)


AllisonA(Animaterra) 13 Dec 05 - 12:24 PM
Dave Ruch 13 Dec 05 - 12:50 PM
Hollowfox 13 Dec 05 - 03:42 PM
Jacob B 13 Dec 05 - 04:06 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 13 Dec 05 - 04:15 PM
Carly 13 Dec 05 - 05:06 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 13 Dec 05 - 08:01 PM
GUEST,John Hernandez 14 Dec 05 - 08:09 AM
KathWestra 14 Dec 05 - 10:17 AM
KathWestra 14 Dec 05 - 10:24 AM
Leraud 14 Dec 05 - 01:32 PM
GUEST,Pamela in Ithaca 14 Dec 05 - 10:17 PM
iancarterb 14 Dec 05 - 10:56 PM
JohnB 15 Dec 05 - 11:44 AM
GUEST,David Shewmaker 15 Dec 05 - 03:08 PM
SINSULL 15 Dec 05 - 06:40 PM
GUEST,Artie Shaw 15 Dec 05 - 10:11 PM
GUEST,Bob Jovi 15 Dec 05 - 10:36 PM
georgeward 15 Dec 05 - 10:44 PM
Barbara 16 Dec 05 - 12:28 AM
Barbara 16 Dec 05 - 12:36 AM
Guy Wolff 16 Dec 05 - 01:56 PM
open mike 16 Dec 05 - 07:09 PM
open mike 16 Dec 05 - 09:32 PM
DMcG 24 Dec 05 - 04:58 AM
SINSULL 19 Dec 08 - 12:09 PM
Stringsinger 19 Dec 08 - 04:36 PM
Susan A-R 19 Dec 08 - 08:12 PM
Derby Ram 24 Dec 08 - 09:28 PM
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Subject: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 13 Dec 05 - 12:24 PM

John Langstaff died of a stroke at about 1 am today, visiting family in Switzerland.
He and his daughter Carol founded Revels which were the basis of my early education as a folk musician.
Jack was a huge influence on me, the way I teach and direct has a lot to do with him. I remember seeing him in the Revels when I was just 13 years old- I watched his joyous energy and thought, "That's what I want to do- make people feel about music and singing the way he makes me feel!"

More on Jack here.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 13 Dec 05 - 12:50 PM

My goodness. A huge loss. RIP Jack Langstaff, and thank you.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: Hollowfox
Date: 13 Dec 05 - 03:42 PM

Oh, my. He was one of the featured folk at the second folk-type gathering I ever attended, one of the New York Pinewoods Gatherings, just down the road from Sandy and Caroline Paton's house. He had an enthusiasm that far exceeded any that I had ever seen before. He will be missed.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: Jacob B
Date: 13 Dec 05 - 04:06 PM

For those who have never seen Revels: The way the chorus was used as a bridge between the performers and the audience, and Jack's outgoing personality, blurred the usual boundaries separating audience from performance and let the audience feel part of the traditions they were seeing. The audience learned much, the volunteer chorus learned more. Indeed, many people made the transition from audience to chorus, or from audience to children's chorus to chorus. That doesn't mention Jack's non-Revels performances, or his efforts at bringing traditional music into the schools. Jack leaves a legacy that will be enriching us for generations.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 13 Dec 05 - 04:15 PM

Farewell to another old and dear friend- friends since about 1946 up to now. Gayle Rich at the Revels national office called with the news this morning- it was very sudden, a massive stroke; a great shock to so many people who knew and loved him. I had tears for awhile, then began thinking... The Winter Solstice,and almost the Shortest Day, of 2005- I think maybe that, if he could have chosen, this would have been Jack's most favorite time to change worlds, and begin a new life!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: Carly
Date: 13 Dec 05 - 05:06 PM

What a sad day...Jack Langstaff touched the lives of so many through music during his long and eventful life. As well as founding Revels,Jack was responsible for developing Folk Music Week at Pinewoods Folk Music Camp, and he worked tirelessly to incorporate traditional music into schools. I feel grateful to have known him; the memories of his joyful enthusiasm and encouraging smile will stay with me always.

My deepest sympathies to his family and many friends.

Carly Gewirz


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 13 Dec 05 - 08:01 PM

Thanks to all for your wonderful eulogies. I've been thinking of Jack all day. Jean, your words ring so true. Jack will be smiling on us all as we face the darkest days. I'm so glad I decided to go to this year's Cambridge Revels- for the first time in years- I'm friends with some of the cast and they will be singing Jack proud!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: GUEST,John Hernandez
Date: 14 Dec 05 - 08:09 AM

We have already lost too many this year. Jack will be missed.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: KathWestra
Date: 14 Dec 05 - 10:17 AM

What a loss. I first met Jack in 1974 when he joined other teachers/musicians in teaching a week-long workshop in the Boston area on how to use folk music to teach American history. He had us all on fire to (as Animaterra said), go out and teach like that--to "make people feel about music and singing the way he makes me feel!". Years later, I sang in the chorus, directed by Jack, of the very first Christmas Revels in Washington DC. His joy was so infectious, and his love of the music so profound, that he had us all believing we could, as a musical community, really sing back the sun on the shortest day. He will be deeply missed by so many whose lives he touched, but the joy he shared will live on through Revels performances and recordings and so many people's memories of his joyous influence.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: KathWestra
Date: 14 Dec 05 - 10:24 AM

Here is Scott Alarik's obituary from today's Boston Globe:

John Langstaff, 84; author, singer founded Christmas Revels
By Scott Alarik, Globe Corespondent | December 14, 2005

It seems strangely like John Langstaff to leave us at Christmastime. Though he achieved fame as a concert baritone, influential music educator, author, and cultural activist, his life and art always seemed to revolve around the holiday season.

Mr. Langstaff died of a stroke yesterday in Switzerland. He lived in Cambridge and also had a home in Vermont. He was 84.

In 1971, he founded the Christmas Revels in Cambridge, which will entertain more than 19,000 people this month with its trademark blend of traditional music, dance, ritual, and theater. Annual Christmas Revels productions in eight other cities will be seen by more than 60,000 people this month. A Revels production is also held here in the spring.

Mr. Langstaff was not just drawn to the merriment of midwinter, but to how much the season incorporates the passions that guided his life and career.

''There's a need for art that connects us to each other," he told the Globe in 2000. ''You go far enough back in any culture, and you find these rituals, these ways of bringing people together. I think that connectedness is so important to us. It always has been, you know; the rituals tell us that."

Mr. Langstaff was born on Christmas Eve in 1920 in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y.; and it is helpful in understanding his holiday obsession to know that was no accident. His parents, who hosted huge music parties that time of year, yearned for a Christmas baby, he said. On Dec. 24, Mr. Langstaff's mother ran up and down stairs and moved furniture around trying to induce labor.

Among his most cherished childhood memories were sitting by his mother at the piano, watching the faces of partiers as they sang together. He never lost that desire to see music shared.

After studying voice at Grace Church Choir School, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Juilliard School, he began his career as a concert baritone. In the 1940s and '50s, he gained international renown, and made more than 30 recordings. In England after he served in the US Army duringWorld War II, he made several EMI recordings with George Martin, who later achieved fame as the Beatles' producer.

''When I first started working at EMI," Martin said yesterday from his home in England, ''he was already a fine, fine singer. He was extremely well-respected by his peers, but never really had pretensions to be a great classical singer. His main forte was in getting people involved with music. He was wonderful at that, and he was frightfully good with young people; just sort of a bundle-of-fun with music, which is what music should be."

As Mr. Langstaff's own family grew, he became increasingly interested in teaching children the joys of music. He hosted a popular BBC TV show for children, ''Making Music, and Children Explore Books" on NBC.

In 1955, he became head of music education at the Potomac School in Virginia, serving for 13 years before filling the same role at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge for six years. He wrote 25 books, most either for children or guides for teaching music, including the Caldecott Award-winning ''Frog Went a-Courting."

''Whenever I am asked to go to schools," Mr. Langstaff told the Globe, ''I always tell them, 'I'm not coming here to sing for you; I'm coming to make music with you.' "

In 1957, he produced ''A Christmas Masque of Traditional Revels" at New York's Town Hall. In 1966, NBC asked him to produce a similar ''Christmas Masque" as a Hallmark Hall of Fame special. Among its cast was the soon-to-be-famous Dustin Hoffman, playing the dragon slain by St. George.

In 1971, his daughter Carol coaxed him into reviving his Revels idea at Sanders Theater. Together, they smartly turned its re-creation of ancient music and ceremony into the modern holiday tradition of the Christmas Revels.

''He had a gift for bringing out the best in other people, because he always looked for that," Carol said yesterday from her home in Sharon, Vt. ''He believed in encouraging people, looking for what was best in them. I don't think he had to learn that; it was always in him. I just think life was very, very exciting to him. He was always a student, always learning, all his life."

As Revels became more popular, Mr. Langstaff presided over its expansion into a national empire. After retiring as artistic director in 1995, Mr. Langstaff continued to help Revels Inc. branch out into marketing recordings, books, and educational kits aimed at helping teachers and parents share music with children.

''Jack was amazing to work with," said Revels executive director Gayle Rich. ''He was never a person who appeared to have a strong ego, or a sense of 'Do-it-my-way-or-else.' And yet you knew he had a clear idea of how he wanted things to be. I learned so much watching how he worked with people, how he encouraged them, and created community. He knew how to let people blossom."

Martin laughed softly, a little sadly, confessing that he somehow never imagined Mr. Langstaff would die. Something about his spirit remained so boyish, so eager for more.

''I think he'll be well remembered for giving a lot of joy to a lot of people," he said, ''and for encouraging young people to get involved with music. And his work with Revels will unquestionably be his monument. I mean, he's already there, isn't he? He was a legend in his own time."

Besides his daughter Carol, Mr. Langstaff leaves his wife, Nancy Trowbridge Langstaff of Cambridge; two other daughters, Deborah of Basel, Switzerland, and Caitlin of New York City; two sons, John of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Gary of Beverly; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

A memorial is being planned for late February.



© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: Leraud
Date: 14 Dec 05 - 01:32 PM

I have only discovered Jack's singing in recent months and only last week received a set of four CD's, which I sent off for from Canada

The Water is Wide
At the Foof of Yonder Mountain
Nottamun Town
The Lark in the Morn

His voice was and is a delight to listen to. I wish I'd known about him before.

Lynne Heraud


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05
From: GUEST,Pamela in Ithaca
Date: 14 Dec 05 - 10:17 PM

Jack has been an inspiration to so many of us in so many ways.
He will be very much missed... and yet he will still live on
in Revels and so many songs of Christmas. Farewell Lord of the Dance.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: iancarterb
Date: 14 Dec 05 - 10:56 PM

It's hard to imagine being so touched by a person I knew so slightly- two one week sessions at Pinewoods in the middle sixties- but I am glad I was able to tell him at a Maritime Revels in Seattle 30 years later that hearing him sing the Knight in the Road had literally changed the way I heard and participated in folk music for the rest of my life. It did, and I know he did the same for many, many others. A life well lived, and author of a multi-generational legacy of appreciation of traditional music, ritual and joy. Thanks, Jack, and a virtual hug to all of his family. I will be at the Puget Sound Revels this Sunday and hold my breath during the Abbots Bromley and sing The Lord of the Dance with 800 friends with extra gusto for Jack.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: JohnB
Date: 15 Dec 05 - 11:44 AM

I first came across his singing from an old vinyl albumn which included All Around my Hat, with a Victorian style piano accompaniment. The Revels was far much more lively fun. Sounds like a nice guy too. Good Contribution to Life.
JohnB


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05
From: GUEST,David Shewmaker
Date: 15 Dec 05 - 03:08 PM

I remember when he ran the Revels Session at Pinewoods. It lasted only a couple of years at the time, and I was working on crew. I remember thinking how bizarre it was to hear Christmas music in summer time. Crew members would joke about it.    But I loved the singing in the camphouse, and stood at a distance in awe of him over the years that I saw him at camp.

Without the efforts of families like the Langstaffs, and of Jack in particular, I would not be dancing today. I am grateful to him and his family for the work that they have done to keep an aesthetic that I treasure alive today.

mrshewmaker@gmail.com


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: SINSULL
Date: 15 Dec 05 - 06:40 PM

Very strange, I wandered into the Revels website today and asked Kendall if he knew John FLangstaff. I thought Jacqui and I might go down to Camdge for a look. Sad to lose him when I had just found him.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05
From: GUEST,Artie Shaw
Date: 15 Dec 05 - 10:11 PM

From my first encounter with Jack when I auditioned for the Fool in the Mummer's Play in the NY Revels in 1981 until the time that I had the privilege of dancing the Lord of the Dance in Washngton with him at a Revels workshop, Jack influenced my life on many ways. I knew he couldn't last forever but it was a shck to hear the news today on NPR.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: GUEST,Bob Jovi
Date: 15 Dec 05 - 10:36 PM

Hey David Shewmaker,

What is Pinewoods? Sounds like a hangout for granola types.

What kind of dancing do you do?


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: georgeward
Date: 15 Dec 05 - 10:44 PM

I don't know that I truly believe in the concept of the avatar, but if I did I'd have no doubts about Jack. What I do know is that he had an extraordinary ability to make us believe in ourselves - not in just our surface, musical selves but in something much more subtle that underpins that and makes it worth the music.

No one's mentioned yet that he returned to Pinewoods Folkmusic Week this past summer. Whatever we expected, what we got was the same Jack - the voice, the heart, the sense of play and of how deeply important that play was...and an acute, articulate sense of just how much life he'd managed to live and love. It comforts me not a little to know he was himself to the end of his life. As good as Sheldon Brown's and Scott Alarick's pieces are, they only begin to tell the tale of an extraordinary eighty-four years.

And Jean - to pick up on your notion that this is a passage Jack might have chosen - I knew a man, a cantor in an Eastern Rite church in rural NY, who once told us he believed an Easter passing was the finest thing a man of his faith could hope for. He received that gift (earned it, I'd say). And when I heard of Jack's passing, it was Pinky Labas's image that came to mind.

That and Lord of the Dance.
- George


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: Barbara
Date: 16 Dec 05 - 12:28 AM

We just finished the Portland Revels monday (Oregon) and it somehow seems like a continuum. I can't believe he's gone. He was so alive.

So the shortest day came, and the year died, and Jack died,
And everywhere down the the centuries of the snow white world
Came people singing, dancing, crying,
To drive the dark away, to bid farewell to Jack,
They lighted candles in the winter trees,
They hung their homes with evergreens,
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake,
They shouted, reveling and mourning both,
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us -- listen!
All the long echoes sing the same mixed delight
The shortest day
Jack's life
As promise wakens in the sleeping land
They carol, feast and give thanks for his life
And dearly love their friends and hope for peace
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year,
Welcome Yule,
and bid Jack farewell and Godspeed.

Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: Barbara
Date: 16 Dec 05 - 12:36 AM

Oh, and let me attribute that, I have simply added to Susan Cooper's poem "The Shortest Day" that is used in all the Revels.

Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05
From: Guy Wolff
Date: 16 Dec 05 - 01:56 PM

What a wonderful rock John Langstaff threw into the water with the making of his life's path and the ripples will go on and on from his being here . I for one am very very thankful . . A very inspireing thread . Guy


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05
From: open mike
Date: 16 Dec 05 - 07:09 PM

http://www.revels.org/

http://www.pinewoods.org/

http://www.pinewoodsmorris.org/

ok here you go..


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05
From: open mike
Date: 16 Dec 05 - 09:32 PM

just today i was listening to The CHRISTMAS REVELS cassette tape
(remember those?--talk about old timey!)directed by---none other than...
John (Jack)Langstaff. Revels records andf Revels, inc. is (are) in cambridge (our fair city) Mass.

it sounds like a good tradition...that and First Night Celebrations.

which i shall put in a seperate thread.


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Subject: Obit: Jack Langstaff
From: DMcG
Date: 24 Dec 05 - 04:58 AM

A good account of Jack's life is here


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: SINSULL
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 12:09 PM

I just received a CD of Langstaff's Revels in a Christmas card. Looking forward to a snowy night and some wonderful music.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 04:36 PM

I talked to Jack at Pinewoods as he had not yet but was starting the Revels. I think that
John Cage was there that year too.

I was in the Revels at Sanders Theater in Cambridge one year in the chorus.

He had a rich baritone and a great love of traditional folk songs.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 05)
From: Susan A-R
Date: 19 Dec 08 - 08:12 PM

So sorry to hear this. I remember that remarkable voice singing Lord of the Dance, and "The Moon Shines Bright" His was truly a voicce to bring us to our feet.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Jack Langstaff, father of Revels (Dec 2005)
From: Derby Ram
Date: 24 Dec 08 - 09:28 PM

Typically, I am horribly late picking up on this thread but as I've come across it, here's my pen'orth.

I met Jack for the first time at Pinewoods 2005 (which, for those not so hot on geography, is near to Cape Cod on the eastern U.S. coast) when I was there with Sylvia in the summer of the year he died.

We became, I'm very proud to say, great friends and mutual admirers for that short period. So much so that I was invited by his family to attend his Memorial Service and Celebration Day in Jackson Heights, N.Y. a year later. I have to tell you - I felt severely robbed, having met him so late in his life and then gone....what a travesty...

I have every one of his CD's and his voice (and indeed, his very self) will remain an inspiration to me for as long as I live. Any folk or other singer looking for inspiration or even not, should listen to some (if not all they can get hold of)of Jack's recorded performances - he has much to teach us from the grave and I echo, absolutely, Susan's closing comment. I believe he touched the lives of everyone he came into contact with in some significant way - a truly great man indeed.


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