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Posts about Awards

James Bakkom awarded top theater honor

Posted by: Kristin Tillotson Updated: January 27, 2014 - 1:24 PM

James Bakkom of Minneapolis has won the USITT's top award for a lifetime of creativity.

Artist and set designer James Bakkom was working with found objects before found objects were cool -- and he proceeded to make them cool. Bakkom, who did set design for the Guthrie Theater from 1964 to '74, became known for his "Garbage to Grandeur" workshops in which he taught designers on a budget how to recycle free and low-cost materials into fabulous props costumes and scenery. He went on to teach at several universities and do freelance design projects for theater, television adn corporate clients.

This year the United States Institute of Theatre Technology is marking Bakkom's many-faceted career with its top honor, the USITT award, to be presented at its annual conference in Forth Worth Texas, in late March.

More recently Bakkom, 76, has focused on painting and sculpture, including a "Scarecrow" series that can be seen on his website, jamesrbakkom.com. Minneapolis filmmaker Mark Wojahn made a documentary about Bakkom, "Getting Lost in My Own Art," in 2009. 

Though he was diagnosed last year with Parkinson's disease, Bakkom told broadwayworld.com that he plans to attend the USITT conference.

Vanska thrilled about Grammy

Posted by: Graydon Royce Updated: January 27, 2014 - 8:14 AM


Osmo Vanska announced his joy at being part of the Minnesota Orchestra's Grammy win for classical recording. Vanska issued a statement through his London-based manager early Monday morning. 

"I am absolutely thrilled that this recording of Sibelius Symphonies 1 and 4 -- works so close to my heart -- has been honored with a Grammy Award. I am immensely happy and proud to have been able to achieve this in partnership with my dear and devoted friends at BIS record label and with the remarkable musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra. it is the greatest honor to be presented with such a distinctive award by our peers -- and I convey my genuine thanks to The Recording Academy for this wonderful recognition."

Vanska has been busy lately with guest conducting gigs in Europe and in San Francisco. He quit the Minnesota Orchestra on Oct. 1, to protest the inability to forge a new collective bargaining agreement.

He has not said publicly what his plans are in regards a possible return to Minnesota. A Facebook post was reported to have said he'd like to return but he needs to be asked.

The Grammy-winning disc was the second in what had been intended as a full Sibelius symphony cycle. The first disc was nominated for a Grammy last year.

Screenwriter Michael Starrbury up for an anti-Oscar

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: January 24, 2014 - 4:41 PM

Local screenwriter Michael Starrbury ("The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete") is coming off a remarkable week and looking forward to another one.

On Jan. 15 he dined at the White House, where his dramatic comedy about a pair of hard-luck New York City minority kids was presented for an audience including the First Lady. 

In addition to dinner and a bag of official White House popcorn, "I got to meet Mrs. Obama. It was an incredible experience. She's so humble and sweet," he said.

She had nice things to say about him at the event as well, leading a round of applause for his work and smiling, "Well done, well done... This movie ws so powerful to me." (The comments begin at the 12 minute mark of the video above.)

And on March 1, the day before the Oscars ceremony, Starrbury will be at the Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, Calif. He's nominated for best first screenplay prize.

"I've had calls from people telling me they likes it and they're voting for it," he said, "but the main thing is to go and chill out and get out of this Minnesota weather for a minute."

While he's there, Starrbury will be pitching a new feature for Universal Studios, a kids' comedy.

He'll also attend New Line Studios live reading of his upcoming script "The Great Unknown," based on the graphic novel by Duncan Rouleau. Also attending will be the project's director Jorma Taccone ("MacGruber.") The project is a low-fi action comedy about a daydreaming slacker convinced that telepathic thieves are stealing all his great ideas. 

Minneapolis' Lakewood Mausoleum wins national architecture award

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: January 10, 2014 - 3:44 PM

Star Tribune photo by Tom Wallace

Designed by Joan M. Soranno and John Cook, vice presidents of HGA Architects and Engineers (HGA), the Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum is a breakthrough concept in funerary architecture, a serenely minimalist building nestled into a hillside overlooking a reflecting pool in a garden-like Minneapolis cemetery.

Soranno was the Star Tribune's 2013 Artist of the Year.

It was given a national 2014 AIA Honor Award for Architecture, top recognition in the field. Nearly 3/4 of the 24,000 sq. ft. building is concealed in the hillside, yet the white interior is suffused with light from skylights and south-facing windows. The exterior is clad in gray granite and the entrance surrounded with an abstract mosaic in white-marble. 

This is the second AIA Honor Award won by the Soranno-Cook team and the fifth for the HGA firm. Prevous AIA Honor Awards went to HGA's designs for the Bigelow Chapel at the United Theological Seminary in New Brighton, MN (2006; also by Soranno and Cook); the Colonial Church of Edina in Edina, MN (1980); New Melleray Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa (1977); and Saint Bede's Priory in Eau Claire, Wisconsin (1967).

The Garden Mausoleum has won 26 additional awards including the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design National Honor Award, and the IIDA Best of Competition Award.

See a Star Tribune video of Cook interviewing Soranno here.

'Mats don't make Rock Hall of Fame, but Kiss, Ronstadt, Nirvana do

Posted by: Jon Bream Updated: December 17, 2013 - 12:47 AM

Sorry, Minnesota fans, the Replacements didn’t make into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first appearance on the ballot. But Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt and Hall & Oates all landed in the Hall in their first time facing voters, it was announced late Monday.

Also voted in were Kiss, Cat Stevens and Peter Gabriel (who is also in the Hall as a member of Genesis).

This year’s inductees prove what critics of the Hall of Fame election process have been saying for years: Put qualified nominees on the ballot and let the voters decide.

Ronstadt had been eligible since 1994 but had never been on the ballot. Similarly, Hall & Oates have been eligible since ‘97 but the hall’s nominating committee had never put them up for a vote. An act is eligible 25 years after releasing its first record. Hence, this was Nirvana’s first year of eligibility and, to no one’s surprise, they got elected.

In the non-performer category, former Beatles manager Brian Epstein and former Rolling Stones manager/producer  Andrew Loog Oldham were named to the Hall of Fame by a special committee.

Similarly, the E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen’s backup group, is being honored by the committee for “musical excellence.” Springsteen’s first album was billed as a solo disc, thus only he was named to the Hall of Fame in 1999.

The Replacements, the Minneapolis band that bridged the gap between the punk and grunge eras, were among the nine acts on the ballot that did not receive enough votes from more than 600 critics, musicians and industry workers. The Mats were eligible in 2006 but this was their first time on the ballot.

The Hall of Fame has never been transparent about how the nominating and voting process works. More than 700 musicians, industry works and critics (including me) vote. No write-ins are allowed.

The 29th annual induction ceremonies will be April 10 in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center – the first ceremonies ever open to the public. 



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