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The prestigious "Wally" Award was established in 1992 and is given yearly, in memory of Wally Russell to honor an individual who exhibits a strong sense of leadership, a commitment to technological innovation, and a career of service to the lighting industry. The 2009 winner, Dr. Joel E. Rubin reports his proudest achievement is having nurtured and mentored a small army of professionals with a love of lighting, who have each earned leading places in the profession.

Well known to all in the theatre consulting, entertainment lighting and technology community, Rubin exemplifies the best qualities of our close knit community of colleagues. He has been on the forefront of founding international organizations (OISTAT) and national organizations (USITT) to create a global community of professionals and to foster education and information exchange in developing best practices in the field of entertainment design and technology. As an author and as executive vice president of Kliegl Bros. Lighting, Rubin mentored generations of working professionals. "Few people are more deserving that Joel", comments Pat MacKay, Wally board member and former publisher of Theatre Crafts and Lighting Dimensions magazines, "I know that I, personally, have much for which to thank Joel. Not the least of which was his constant support of the magazines and LDI and his introduction to the wonderland of behind-the-"Iron Curtain" fellowship with OISTAT and the Prague Quadrennial."

The 2009 Wally Award will be announced at LDI2009 and formally presented during the Broadway Lighting Master Classes in New York City in late May 2010.

Lighting Biography of Joel E. Rubin:

Joel Rubin is principal consultant of the consulting firm, Joel E. Rubin and Associates, which provides services in theatre planning and theatre equipment planning. Joel brings extensive specialist knowledge to this work including architectural and theatrical lighting and lighting control. Rubin’s background before starting his own firm includes over two decades as executive vice president of Kliegl Bros. Lighting, and another as principal consultant and managing director of Artec Consultants.

Rubin is the co-founder and a past president of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) and founding chair and chair emeritus of its International Commission. He was one of the seven founding members of the International Organization of Scenographers, Theatre Architects, and Theatre Technicians (OISTAT), the UNESCO-related international organization with national centers in 35 countries; and served for eight years as president of that organization.

Awards and honors include the Annual USITT Founders Award given in his name; member of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre; Fellow, American Educational Theatre Association; Fellow and Lifetime Honorary Member of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology; Gold Pin Recipient of OISTAT; International Jury of the Prague Quadrennial of Scenic and Costume Design and Theatre Architecture; Rubin was the producer of the United States Exhibitions for the Prague Quadrennial in 1987 and again in 1991, leading the United States to the grand prize, the Zlatou Triga, on the first occasion and the Gold Medal in 1991. His current biographical profile is in Who’s Who in America.

Rubin is co-author with Lee Watson of Theatrical Lighting Practice, which inter-relates training for lighting design, the profession of theatrical lighting, and chapters on current practices in lighting for various performance types. His doctoral dissertation, The Technical Development of Electric Stage Lighting Apparatus in the American Theatre, is considered a standard reference. Over the years he has authored several score articles appearing in a wide range of publications here in the United States and in foreign journals in over twenty countries.

Rubin’s work at Kliegl Lighting brought him the opportunity to work with a worldwide array of lighting designers and consultants, both supplying equipment and producing innovative new designs. “It was a rare opportunity,” Joel says, “to learn from working one on one”, rattling off a list that among others included in the lighting field—Jean Rosenthal, Abe Feder, Peggy Clark, Charles Elson, Gil Weschler, Gil Helmsley, Tharon Musser, John Gleason, Jo Mielziner, Ed Kook, Rudi Kuntner, Ron Bates, Pat MacKay, Cash Crouch, Martin Aronstein, Tom Skelton, Richard Pilbrow, Claude Engel, Leslie Wheel, Hans Sondheimer, Ken Palius, Imero Fiorentino, Bill Klages, and Sal Bonsignore.

“It was because of those opportunities that I in turn hoped to repay by what the Wally Foundation has called my work in mentoring ‘a small army of professionals with a love of lighting who have in turn earned leading places in the profession.’”

Kliegl provided most of the theatrical and architectural lighting systems in the building of Lincoln Center and the Los Angeles Music Center, and Rubin directed a large share of Kliegl’s work on those projects, including developing over 100 different fixture types, the first large-scale use of the then new tungsten-halogen lamps in the public areas and audience chamber of the Metropolitan Opera House. His work at Kliegl also included his management role over the development of SCR dimmers, a complete line of tungsten-halogen fixtures for theatre and another complete line for television,high-density dimmer racks and lighting control memory systems.

At Artec Consultants, Rubin’s role included both project management and responsibility for the design of the production lighting systems on such major projects as The Bartok National Concert Hall in Budapest; The Accolade Project Theatres at York University; the Skirball Center at New York University; the Frederick P. Rose Hall and the Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center; the Sibelius Concert Hall in Finland; the Fox Cities, Four Rivers Performing Arts Centers and the Segerstrom Concert Hall in the United States; Sala São Paulo in Brazil and Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto.

Joel’s current work as principal consultant for his own firm includes design of the production lighting systems for new theatres and concert hall facilities in Iceland, Denmark, Poland, Singapore, Canada, Israel, Hong Kong, and (even) the United States.

Given the news that he was being given the 2009 Wally Award, Rubin responded that he was humble indeed, was pleased to have worked very closely with Wally Russell in USITT (which made the “Wally” especially meaningful), and that it was clearly a very special honor to be among the “Wally” recipients. “Really respectable company!”

Dr.Rubin's project experience involves the following:

Accolade Project, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre

Recital Hall

The Bartók National Concert Hall, Palace of Arts, Budapest, Hungary

Four Rivers Performing Arts Center, Paducah, Kentucky, USA

Main Stage

River Room

Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, Appleton, Wisconsin, USA

Kimberly-Clark Theater

Thrivent Financial Hall

Frederick P. Rose Hall, New York, New York, USA

The Allen Room

Rose Theater

(Education Wing), Kravis Center for Performing Arts, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA

Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sala São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Sang Nam Hall, LG Arts Center, Seoul, Korea

Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa, California, USA

Sibelius Hall, Congress and Concert Centre, Lahti, Finland

Skirball Theater, Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, New York University, New York



Previous winners of the Wally Award include:

2008 – Richard Pilbrow
2007 - Fred Foster
2006 - Allen Branton
2005 - Richard Belliveau
2004 - George Izenour
2003 - Sonny Sonnenfeld
2002 - Jimmy Fuller
2001 - Jim Bornhorst
2000 - Stan Miller
1999 - Don Stern
1998 - Bran Ferren
1997 - Fred Bentham
1996 - Francis DeVerna
1995 - Tharon Musser
1994 - George van Buren
1993 - Charles Altman
1992 - Wally Russell


Related article:
Fellows Address by Dr. Joel E. Rubin