Kaija Saariaho
Photo: Priska Ketterer.

The Laureates of the Polar Music Prize 2013 are Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho and Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour. The Jury says for Saariaho: « After studying at IRCAM in Paris, an institution for research and study of electro-acoustic music, Kaija Saariaho has developed into a unique composer, a metal worker’s daughter who reexamines what music can be. When she was growing up, the music that inspired her came not from the radio but from the pillow; that was where she found the music she dreamt of. Kaija Saariaho combines acoustic instruments with electronics and computers. She has written chamber music, orchestral works and operas. Kaija Saariaho is a modern maestro who opens up our ears and causes their anvils and stirrups to fall in love. »

The citation for Youssou N’Dour reads: « The Polar Music Prize 2013 is awarded to Youssou N’Dour from Senegal. A West African griot is not just a singer, but a storyteller, poet, singer of praise, entertainer and verbal historian. Youssou N’Dour is maintaining the griot tradition and has shown that it can also be changed into a narrative about the entire world. With his exceptionally exuberant band Super Étoile de Dakar (Dakar star) and his musically ground breaking and political solo albums, Youssou N’Dour has worked to reduce animosities between his own religion, Islam, and other religions. His voice encompasses an entire continent’s history and future, blood and love, dreams and power. »

On 27 August the Laureates will receive the prize from His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at a gala ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall to be followed by a celebratory banquet at Grand Hôtel. The ceremony will be broadcast live on national television (TV4). Later in the evening, a summary of the ceremony and the banquet will be broadcast. Each recipient receives a total amount of one million SEK (117.000 Euros).

The Polar Music Prize is an international music prize, which is awarded to individuals, groups or institutions in recognition of exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music. It was founded in 1989 by the late Stig Anderson. He was the publisher, lyricist and manager of the pop group ABBA. The name of the prize stems from Anderson’s record label, Polar Music.

Previous Laureates

2012   Yo-Yo Ma and Paul Simon

2011   Kronos Quartet and Patti Smith

2010   Ennio Morricone and Björk

2009   José Antonio Abreu & El Sistema and Peter Gabriel

2008   Renée Fleming and Pink Floyd

2007   Steve Reich and Sonny Rollins

2006   Valery Gergiev and Led Zeppelin

2005   Gilberto Gil and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

2004   B.B. King and György Ligeti

2003   Keith Jarrett

2002   Sofia Gubaidulina and Miriam Makeba

2001   Burt Bacharach, Robert Moog and Karlheinz Stockhausen

2000   Bob Dylan and Isaac Stern

1999   Stevie Wonder and Iannis Xenakis

1998   Ray Charles and Ravi Shankar

1997   Eric Ericson and Bruce Springsteen

1996   Pierre Boulez and Joni Mitchell

1995   Sir Elton John and Mstislav Rostropovich

1994   Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Quincy Jones

1993   Dizzy Gillespie and Witold Lutoslawski

1992   Sir Paul McCartney and The Baltic States

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