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John Langstaff

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John Langstaff (December 24, 1920 - December 13, 2005), a concert baritone, and early music revivalist was the founder of the Northeast United States tradition of the Christmas Revels, as well as a respected musician and educator. He attended the Curtis Institute of Music as well as Juilliard. In 1943 he married Diane Hamilton. He was later married to Nancy Trowbridge, a pianist.

Langstaff’s lifelong project, the Christmas Revels, began in 1957 with a show in New York. In 1971, the longest running Revels, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, began. The Revels, an eclectic mix of medieval and modern music and dance (primarily English in basis), involves the audience and the community in a continuation of pagan and older Christian traditions. Revels shows, now spread over the Northeast and the world, draw on local talent. Morris dancing, mummers, bagpipers and large choruses of men, women and children celebrate the turning of the Winter Solstice in a cheerful fashion.

Throughout his adult life, Langstaff was a dedicated music educator. In 1955, he became the music director at The Potomac School, in Washington, DC, and later taught at Shady Hill School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He wrote twenty-five books, including the Caldecott Medal-winning Frog Went A-Courtin’.

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