STEPHEN SONDHEIM RECEIVES 2015 CARL SANDBURG LITERARY AWARD IN CHICAGO
The Chicago Public Library Foundation and the Chicago Public Library are presenting the 16th annual Carl Sandburg Literary Award to legendary composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. Universally heralded for his immense contributions to musical theater in a career spanning more than 50 years, Sondheim was at the Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at The Forum (725 W. Roosevelt Road) on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. The event was attended by almost 700 and raised more than $1.5 million to support the initiatives of the Chicago Public Library.
One of the highlights of the annual benefit is that each guest has the opportunity to get to know an esteemed author with ties to Chicago personally. This year, guests engaged in table conversation with notable authors including:
· Celebrity chef Rick Bayless
· New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg
· MSNBC political scientist Paul D. Butler
· Artist and educator Nick Cave
· Advice columnist Amy Dickinson
· Nero Wolfe Mysteries author Robert Goldsborough
· MacArthur Foundation Grant-winning fiction writer and critic Aleksander Hemon
· Advice columnist Margo Howard
· NFL Hall of Fame football coach Marv Levy of the Buffalo Bills
· “Mr. Fix-It” Lou Manfredini
· Renowned theologian Martin Marty
· Chicago cabaret performers Beckie Menzie and Tom Michael
· American mystery writer Sara Paretsky
· Ides of March founder Jim Peterik
· Lyric baritone Robert Sims
· Founder of the Thirty Million Words Initiative Dr. Dana Suskind
· Jay Tunney (son of the famous boxer Gene Tunney)
· Lawyer and legal thriller writer Scott Turow
· Newspaper and broadcast journalist Jennifer Weigel
The other confirmed authors and artists in attendance included: Richard Babcock, Blue Balliett, Mary Barr, Leigh B. Bienen, Greg Borzo, Tony Bowers, Christopher A. Brooks, Leslie Buchbinder, Christopher Castiglia, Wesley Chu, Elizabeth Crane, Matthew Cordell, David Lee Csicsko, Gioa Dilberto, Stuart Dybek, Thomas Dyja, Charles Finch, Douglas Foster, Gina Frangello, Jamie Freveletti, Amina Gautier, Harold Green, Del Hall, Julie Halpern, Michael Harvey, Bernard Judge, Kimbeth Judge, James Klise, Tom Kuczmarski, Bill Kurtis, Mike Leonard, Deborah Liverett, Bob Marovich, Tom Michael, Mary Morris, Nami Mun, Leslie Parry, Christopher Reed, Randy Richardson, Renee Rosen, Peter Sagal, Robert Sharoff, Ed Sherman, Adrian Smith, Christine Sneed, Megan Stielstra, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Tyler, Jennifer Wiza and William Zbaren.
Also being honored was Eric Charles May, who received the 21st Century Award, which salutes emerging authors with ties to Chicago. An associate professor in the Fiction Writing program of Columbia College, the native Chicagoan’s debut novel “Bedrock Faith” was published in 2014 to widespread acclaim. In the Apri, 2014 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, “Bedrock Faith” was named one of “Ten Books to Pick Up Now.”
The Carl Sandburg Literary Award is presented to writers in honor of their collective body of work and is now recognized as one of the nation’s most prestigious literary prizes, having been presented to many of the world’s most esteemed fiction and non-fiction authors. The celebration attracts nearly 800 members of Chicago’s civic and cultural communities and is one of the city’s most popular social events, with a cocktail reception and dinner during which guests at each table enjoy the company of a prominent writer, musician, filmmaker or artist with ties to Chicago. The highlight of the evening is an insight-filled onstage conversation with Mr. Sondheim moderated by National Public Radio host and author Scott Simon. The evening concludes with a dessert reception. Every attendee will receive personally inscribed copies of works by the honored authors as a keepsake of the evening.
The Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner raises funds for the Chicago Public Library Foundation, which supports innovative initiatives of the Chicago Public Library. Programs include, the Summer Learning Challenge; One Book, One Chicago; Teacher in the Library and CyberNavigators. The Sandburg Dinner is presented annually by the Chicago Public Library Foundation in partnership with the Chicago Public Library. The Foundation is led by Board Chair Robert A. Wislow, Chairman, CRBE-Chicago and Foundation President & CEO Rhona Frazin. The event is co-chaired by Wislow and Foundation DirectorDina Yaghmai Payvar, MD Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Business and civic leader John Bryan will serve as the honorary chair. It is produced by Foundation Director and Vice President of Kurtis Productions Donna La Pietra and hosted by award-winning journalist Bill Kurtis. Each year, for the past three years, the event has raised $1.5 million for innovative services for children, adults and families at the Library.
“The support that the Chicago Public Library receives from Chicago’s generous business and philanthropic community ensures that our city’s libraries are recognized as leaders in the field worldwide,” said Library Commissioner Brian Bannon. “In the past year alone, we have seen record-breaking participation in Foundation-funded initiatives such as the Summer Learning Challenge, YOUmedia and Homework Help programs.”
Past winners of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award are Doris Kearns Goodwin, Mavis Staples, Larry McMurtry, Michael Lewis, Isabel Allende, Don DeLillo, Walter Isaacson, Roger Ebert, Toni Morrison,David McCullough, Robert Caro, Joyce Carol Oates, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Kurt Vonnegut, John Updike, David Mamet, Nikki Giovanni, Tom Wolfe and Salman Rushdie.
BMO Harris Bank is the Presenting Sponsor of the 2015 Carl Sandburg Literary Awards Dinner. Lead sponsors include Advanced Resources, Rolex and the Zell Family Foundation.
The Chicago Public Library Foundation was founded in 1986 as a true public/private partnership with the City of Chicago to ensure the margin of excellence for Chicago’s outstanding Library. Through the support of many civic-minded individuals, corporations and foundations, the Foundation provides on-going funding for collections and a variety of community-responsive programs include the Summer Learning Challenge, Teacher in the Library, CyberNavigators, YOUmedia and One Book, One Chicago. In the past 30 years, the Foundation has provided nearly $70 million in support to the Chicago Public Library. In the November 2015 issue of Chicago Magazine, the Chicago Public Library Foundation was named one of the top 20 charitable organizations in the Chicago area.
The Chicago Public Library, established in 1872, is one of the nation’s premier library systems. The Library serves Chicagoans from its 80 welcoming neighborhood locations, providing rich collections of books, innovative programs and services, and access to state-of-the-art technology. The library welcomes 12 million visitors per year.
About the Honorees
Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for “Saturday Night” (1954), “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” (1962), “Anyone Can Whistle” (1964), “Company” (1970), “Follies” (1971), “A Little Night Music”(1973), “The Frogs” (1974), “Pacific Overtures” (1976), “Sweeney Todd” (1979), “Merrily We Roll Along” (1981), “Sunday in the Park with George” (1984), “Into the Woods” (1987), “Assassins” (1991), “Passion” (1994) and “Road Show” (2008), as well as lyrics for “West Side Story” (1957), “Gypsy” (1959), “Do I Hear A Waltz?” (1965) and additional lyrics for “Candide” (1973). “Side by Side by Sondheim”(1976), “Marry Me A Little” (1981), “You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow” (1983), “Putting It Together” (1993/99), “Moving On” (2001) and “Sondheim on Sondheim” (2010) are anthologies of his work as composer and lyricist. For films, he composed the score of “Stavisky” (1974), co-composed the score for “Reds” (1981) and wrote songs for “Dick Tracy” (1990). He wrote songs for the television production “Evening Primrose” (1966), co-authored the film “The Last of Sheila” (1973) and the play “Getting Away With Murder” (1996) and provided incidental music for the plays “The Girls of Summer” (1956), “Invitation to a March” (1961), “Twigs” (1971) and “The Enclave” (1973). His collected lyrics with attendant essays have been published in two volumes: “Finishing the Hat” (2010) and “Look, I Made A Hat” (2011). In 2010, the Broadway theater formerly known as Henry Miller’s Theatre was renamed in his honor.
Sondheim has been honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Kennedy Center Honors and numerous Tony and Drama Desk Awards. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “Sunday in the Park with George” and the Academy Award for Best Song for “Sooner Or Later” from the film “Dick Tracy.” He was appointed the first Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Oxford University, received the Laurence Oliver Society of London Theatre Special Award and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which awarded him with the Gold Medal for Music.
Eric Charles May is the author of the novel “Bedrock Faith,” which was named a Notable African-American Title by Publisher’s Weekly and a Top Ten Debut Novel for 2014 by Booklist magazine. An associate professor in the Fiction Writing program at Columbia College Chicago, May is a Chicago native (raised in Morgan Park and South Shore) and a former reporter for The Washington Post. His fiction has also appeared in Fish Stories, F, Flyleaf Journal, Criminal Class, Solstice, and Hypetext. In addition to his Post reporting, his nonfiction has appeared in Sport Literate, the Chicago Tribune, and the personal essay anthology, “Briefly Knocked Unconscious by a Low-Flying Duck.”