Steve Reich and Sonny Rollins Win 2007 Polar Prize

The winners of the Polar Music Prize Award for 2007, Steve Reich and Sonny Rollins, were announced on Thursday, January 25 at The Royal Swedish Academy of Music in Stockholm. Each recipient receives a total amount of one million Swedish Crowns which is equivalent to approximately USD $140.000 or EUR 108.000. The Chairman of the Board and Award Committee, Mr. Åke Holmquist, read the Award Committee’s citations.

The Steve Reich Citation

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Steve Reich, photo by Jeffrey Herman

The 2007 Polar Music Prize is awarded to the American composer and musician Steve Reich. The award recognizes his unique ability to use repeats, canon technique, and minimal variation of patterns to develop an entire universe of evocative music endowed with immediate tonal beauty. Inspired by different musical traditions, Steve Reich has transferred questions of faith, society, and philosophy into a hypnotic sounding music that has inspired musicians and composers of all genres.

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Sonny Rollins

The Sonny Rollins Citation

The 2007 Polar Music Prize is awarded to the American tenor saxophonist and composer Sonny Rollins, one of the most powerful and personal voices in jazz for more than fifty years. Sonny Rollins has elevated the unaccompanied solo to the highest artistic level – all characterized by a distinctive and powerful sound, irresistible swing, and an individual musical sense of humor. He is still active and the greatest remaining master from one of jazz’s seminal eras.

The prize winners 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 on Monday, May 21. The event, which is broadcasted on national television (TV4), attracts international media, members of the international music business, celebrities, artists, musicians, government ministers, politicians and leading members of society and industry. A whole weekend of activities is being planned under the name of Polar Music Prize Week, encompassing exhibitions, workshops, seminars, film screenings and live performances at various locations in Stockholm. On February 1, a reception and press event will be given by the Consul General of Sweden in New York to honor the winners as well.

The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by the late Stig “Stikkan” Anderson. As the publisher, lyricist, and manager of ABBA, Anderson played a key role in their success. Anderson donated a large sum of money to The Royal Swedish Academy of Music to establish The Stig Anderson Music Award Foundation in The Royal Swedish Academy of Music and to create what was to become known as the Polar Music Prize.

Its name stems from Anderson’s legendary record label, Polar Records. The Polar Music Prize is an international music prize and awarded to individuals, groups or institutions in recognition of exceptional achievements in the creation and advancement of music. The prize breaks down musical boundaries by bringing together people from all the different worlds of music.

The board of the Stig Anderson Music Award Foundation, consists of representatives from the Stig Anderson family, SKAP (The Swedish Society of Popular Music Composers) and STIM (The Swedish Performing Rights Society). The task of scrutinizing nominations submitted and selecting the ultimate prizewinners is undertaken by an Award Committee comprising of experienced members of the music industry.

Today, the Polar Music Prize has become one of the most prestigious music prizes in the world. The list of prize winners bears witness to this. Sir Paul McCartney, Dizzy Gillespie, Witold Lutoslawski, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Quincy Jones, Mstislav Rostropovitch, Sir Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Pierre Boulez, Bruce Springsteen, Eric Ericson, Ray Charles, Ravi Shankar, Iannis Xenakis, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Isaac Stern, Burt Bacharach, Robert Moog, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Sofia Gubaidulina, Miriam Makeba, Keith Jarrett, B.B. King, György Ligeti, Gilberto Gil, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Valery Gergiev, and Led Zeppelin have all been bestowed with the Prize since its inception in 1992. In 1992, the Baltic States were also awarded the Prize to encourage them in their work for protection of copyright. January 25 was Stig Anderson’s birthday and the year 2007 mark the 10-year anniversary of his death.

(Edited by Frank J. Oteri)