R. Gary Langford, professor of music emeritus at the University of Florida (UF) School of Music, was honored last week by the Florida Bandmasters Association at its Roll of Distinction concert and ceremony held Nov. 15, 2014 at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. Langford was inducted into the association’s Roll of Distinction, which was initiated in 2001 and honors those music people who have distinguished themselves with Florida bands, other than in secondary education, and who have made significant contributions to the history and development of bands in Florida.
Langford is the 15th inductee and is the fourth Gator to receive this distinction. Other past UF faculty who have received this award are Richard “Dick” Bowles (2001 honoree), Reid Poole (2003 honoree) and Col. Harold Bachman (2011 honoree). Langford was nominated for the honor by Florida Bandmasters Association members and selected by the Hall of Fame Board. The November 15th event featured opening comments from Linda Mann, president of the Florida Bandmasters Association, remarks by John Duff, director of the School of Music, and a performance by the Southern Winds under the direction of Dr. Bobby Adams. Guest conductors included Steve Bingham, director of bands at Santa Fe College; Gerald Poe of the Gainesville Community Band; Duff; Jay Watkins, associate director of bands at UF, David Waybright, director of bands at UF; and Frank Wickes, retired director of bands at Louisiana State University.
“To be honored by one’s peers in this way is beyond anything I could ever have imagined,” said Langford. “I am truly blessed and humbled to be in the company of such distinguished individuals who have had such a major impact on the development of band music in the state of Florida and beyond.”
The Hall of Fame weekend was attended by more than 450 guests, including many of the association’s members from around the state, as well as family members and friends of each of the inductees. On Nov. 16, 2014, two members were also inducted into the association’s Hall of Fame for middle and high school directors.
“It is not what Gary has accomplished and continues to accomplish that is important, but rather who he is, the extent of his talent, and the personality he possesses…his leadership…and the joy and commitment he brings to whatever he does,” said Duff during his remarks at the ceremony. “Having had the opportunity to work with very bright and talented faculty during my time as department chair, which dates back to 1987, I don’t hesitate a moment in considering Gary Langford among the most outstanding and inspirational of those faculty.”
A native of Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, Langford’s enthusiasm for music began at a young age. When he was growing up in he would wake at 6 a.m. and practice the trumpet in his family's cellar. Additionally, Langford played the piano, as did his mother, who gave lessons and was a musician in the Oberlin Conservatory. After graduating high school in 1958 he attended Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1962 and fell in love with jazz. After college, he joined the Air Force and reached captain before moving on to graduate school at the University of North Texas (UNT). He earned a master's degree in trumpet performance in 1971 from UNT and came to UF shortly after that as the assistant director of bands and a trumpet professor. During his 38-year career at UF, he served as professor of music, assistant director of the School of Music, and director of Concert Band, Marching Band and Jazz Band. Additionally, Langford, an accomplished arranger, has completed over 400 arrangements for marching band — many of which are still performed by the current band.
Langford’s contribution to the Gainesville community spans four decades. He was director of the UF Jazz Band for many years, and is most beloved for his passion and leadership in this program. His passion for music at UF extended to the Gator Marching Band, which he led in his capacity as assistant director from 1971 to 1985 and as director from 1985-1996. He has introduced thousands of students to jazz through his popular Jazz History class and has inspired countless musicians and shaped lives through his leadership and mentorship.
Langford is a past president and treasurer of the International Association of Jazz Educators, Florida unit, and was selected as the "Outstanding Jazz Educator" in Florida in 1982-83. He has been thrice honored by UF as the College of Fine Arts’ “Teacher of the Year” and, in 2006, was selected as “Co-Teacher of the Year” for UF. Other honors include the prestigious “Distinguished Service to Music Medal” by Kappa Kapps Psi, the national band fraternity, and being named “College Music Educator of the Year” by the Florida Music Educators Association in 1998. Langford has been a finalist for the UF Alumni Association’s prestigious “Distinguished Professor Award” twice. Langford has served as music director and conductor of the Alachua County Youth Orchestra for more than 20 years and is a founding director and current board member of Gainesville Friends of Jazz, Inc.
A new CD, Bobby Shew Live 1983, features Langford from his time as director of the UF Jazz Band. The CD, which aims to capture the essence of Langford’s spirit and pay homage to his lifetime of achievements in music, jazz education and dedication to UF, features a live recording from March 9, 1983 in University Auditorium and includes 10 tracks. Proceeds and donations from the distribution of the CD support student scholarships to the UF School of Music.
About the School of Music
The School of Music is one of the University of Florida College of the Arts’ three fully-accredited schools. The School of Music plays an important role in the academic life of the University and the community. The school’s programs provide broad-based instruction in performance, composition, history and literature and music disciplines, through a strong curriculum as well as through professional experiences such as ensembles and internships. UF students also have the opportunity to join more than a dozen music ensembles, including jazz bands, the University Choir, the University Symphony Orchestra and the “Pride of the Sunshine” Fightin’ Gator Marching Band. To learn more, visit www.arts.ufl.edu/music.
About the College of the Arts
The College of the Arts, previously known as the College of Fine Arts, is one of the 16 colleges and more than 150 research centers and institutes at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. The College of the Arts offers baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its three institutionally-accredited schools — the School of Art + Art History, School of Music and School of Theatre + Dance. The college is home to the Center for Arts in Medicine, Center for Arts and Public Policy, Center for World Arts, Digital Worlds Institute, University Galleries and the New World School of the Arts in Miami. More than 100 faculty members and approximately than 1,200 students work together daily to engage, inspire and create. The college hosts more than 300 performances, exhibitions and events each year. Faculty and students also exhibit and perform at other local, national and international venues. To learn more, visit www.arts.ufl.edu.
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Leah Craig, Public Relations and Marketing Manager
University of Florida College of the Arts
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