Lerman, Maté, Kooman and Dimond Are Larson Award Winners
By Kenneth Jones
Peter Lerman, Daniel Maté, and songwriting team of composer Michael Kooman and lyricist-librettist Christopher Dimond were selected to receive the 2010 Jonathan Larson Grants.
The grants, given annually to honor emerging composers, lyricists and book writers, help to continue late Tony Award-winning composer Larson's "dream of infusing musical theatre with a contemporary, joyful, urban vitality." Chosen from 165 applications, the recipients (who get $10,000 each) will be honored at a presentation on March 9 at Touch at 240 W. 52nd St. in New York City.
This year's recipients were selected by a panel consisting of Robyn Goodman (Tony Award-winning producer of Avenue Q and In the Heights), Tom Kitt (Tony Award-winning composer of Next to Normal), Kathleen Marshall (Tony-winning choreographer of The Pajama Game) and Stephen Schwartz (Tony-nominated composer-lyricist of Pippin and Wicked).
The American Theatre Wing is "dedicated to celebrating excellence and supporting theatre," and awards the Larson Grants "to artists to recognize and showcase their work with no strings attached — except to put it to the best use possible to help further the artist's creative endeavors."
Here are the 2010 Jonathan Larson Grant Recipients at a glance:
Peter Lerman is a composer and lyricist who recently performed solo concerts of his work at the Kennedy Center and Signature Theatre. In 2005, he received his bachelor's degree in music from Columbia University where he wrote music and lyrics for the Columbia Varsity Show. He participated in the 2007 Johnny Mercer Songwriting Festival and is a member of ASCAP, The Dramatists Guild, and Cutting-Edge Composers. In addition to music for theatre, he writes country songs and music for television.
Daniel Maté has a B.A. in psychology from McGill and an M.F.A. from in musical theatre writing from Tisch/NYU. He writes music, lyrics, and book, in various permutations and combinations. He is the lyricist and co-bookwriter, with composer Will Aronson, of The Trouble With Doug, a modern comedic musical inspired by Kafka's The Metamorphosis (staged reading, Goodspeed Festival of New Artists '08; workshop production, CAP 21 Theatre Company, NYC '09). As a composer, his collaboration with lyricist Maggie-Kate Coleman has been featured as part of the York Theatre's NEO (New, Emerging, Outstanding) concert series. As a composer- lyricist, his song cycle The Longing and the Short of It was presented by Barrington Stage Company in August 2009, curated and directed by William Finn. His sold-out concert Marry Me, America was seen at the Laurie Beechman in February 2009 and was a Time Out New York "Critics' Pick." He runs a custom songwriting service and teaches songwriting to young people. He is earned a 2006 Tisch Achievement Award.
Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond met while students at Carnegie Mellon University. Their most recent musical, Golden Gate, premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Their musical Dani Girl has been workshopped at the Kennedy Center's New Visions/New Voices Festival, American Conservatory Theatre, the ASCAP/Disney Musical Theater Workshop, CAP-21, and was awarded the KC/ACTF Musical Theatre Award. Junior Claus, a family-friendly holiday musical, debuted in Minneapolis this winter, and is slated for a Midwest tour next year. The duo's song cycle Homemade Fusion has been produced at CMU, the Pittsburgh CLO's Late Night Cabaret, the Zipper Theater, Monday Night New Voices: Chicago, and has been featured in several NAMT showcases. They are 2009-2010 Dramatists Guild Fellows, and were recently fellows at the O'Neill Music Theater Conference, and were finalists for the 2009 Fred Ebb Award.
In addition to their work together, Dimond was a playwright in residence at the Hangar Theatre for his play Burying Barbie, which has gone on to subsequent productions. He is the recipient of the ASCAP Harold Adamson Lyric Award, the KC/ACTF Mark Twain Prize for Comic Playwriting (second place), several ASCAPLUS Awards, an Alfred P. Sloan Screenwriting Fellowship, the Schubert Fellowship for Dramatic Writing, the Mary Marlin Fisher Playwriting Award, and was a finalist for the John Cauble Award.
Kooman received the 2009 Burton Lane award from the Theater Hall of Fame. His incidental musical scores have included the Carnegie Mellon Productions of The Glass Menagerie, House of Blue Leaves, Ghosts and Brecht's Man is Man. Also active in the concert world, he was commissioned to write a piece for the 80th Anniversary season of the Altoona Symphony Orchestra, and his orchestral overture "Two Precepts" was premiered and recorded by the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic. He is currently a member of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop, which received a Tony Honor.
Kitt said in a statement, "Jonathan's work has enriched my life in countless ways and I will always strive to celebrate his life's work through my own contributions to the musical theatre. In addition, the Larson Grants changed my life when it awarded a very raw piece entitled Feeling Electric a grant back in 2004. That gift gave Brian Yorkey and me the confidence to keep working on that piece at a time when we weren't sure we could. Now, five years later, under its new title, Next to Normal continues to serve as an important example of how Jonathan's many gifts have changed lives. I couldn't be more proud to work with the Jonathan Larson Grants as a reminder of how important it is to nurture young artists and to fight for their voices to be heard."
Past recipients of the Larson Grants include Sam Davis, Chad Beguelin & Matthew Sklar, John Bucchino, Laurence O'Keefe and Michael Korie, among others.
Jonathan Larson is the Tony Award-winning, Pulitzer Prize-honored composer-lyricist-librettist of Rent.
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