Violin superstar Anne-Sophie Mutter is among the recipients of this year’s Polar Music Prize, along with rap pioneer Grandmaster Flash and the California-based Playing for Change Foundation. The winners, which were announced Feb. 13, will receive their awards at a gala ceremony June 11 hosted by Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf in Stockholm.
Established in 1989 by Stig Anderson, manager and lyricist of the Swedish pop music-band ABBA, the Polar prize is given annually to two artists, one contemporary and one classical, for excellence in music. The prize celebrates the power and importance of music and its ability to unite different cultures. Each recipient receives a million Swedish kronor (approximately $110,00 in U.S. dollars). This year marks just the second time in three decades that the Polar nominating committee has decided to name three laureates.
”It is a huge honor to be in this illustrious group of musicians who have received the Polar Music Prize,” said Mutter in a statement. (Currently on tour, Mutter will return to Chicago for an SCP Chamber Music concert March 17, with pianist Lambert Orkis and cellist Daniel Müller-Schott.) “I’m deeply honored and humbled. and I can’t wait to come to Stockholm and meet the other recipients.”
Through his groundbreaking work starting in the ’70s as a turntable artist, DJ and lyricist-composer, Grandmaster Flash (born Joseph Saddler) helped to foster the genre of hip-hop (now regarded as the most popular music in the United States and many other nations). “[Often] what we do as DJs gets overlooked,” he said. “So for these people to say let’s give this [prize] to someone who doesn’t necessarily use a microphone as their gift … I am so, so deeply honored.”
Founded in 2007 by American filmmakers Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroenke, the Playing for Change Foundation aims “to inspire, connect and bring peace to the world through music.” The foundation has created music programs in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ghana, Mali, Nepal, Rwanda, Morocco, Mexico, Argentina and Thailand.
Previous Polar Music Prize winners include Pierre Boulez, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Renée Fleming, Valery Gergiev, Dizzy Gillespie, Elton John, the Kronos Quartet, Yo-Yo Ma, Paul McCartney, Ennio Morricone, Youssou N’Dour, Mstislav Rostropovich, Ravi Shankar, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen and Karlheinz Stockhausen.