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Polar Music Prize 2016 Celebrates Musical Excellence

Celebrating the power and importance of music with the Polar Music Prize for 2016

Every year the Polar Music Prize awards two Laureates in order to celebrate music in all its various forms and to emphasise the original intention of the prize: to break down musical boundaries by bringing together people from all the different worlds of music. The 2016 Laureates are mezzosoprano Cecilia Bartoli from Rome, Italy and Martin Sandberg from Stockholm, Sweden.

The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by the late Stig ‘Stikkan’ Anderson, one of the true greats in the history of popular music. As the publisher, lyricist and manager of ABBA, he played a key role in their enormous success. Its name stems from Anderson’s legendary record label, Polar Music. The Polar Music Prize is one of the most prestigious and unique music prizes in the world, crossing musical boundaries and awarded to individuals, groups and institutions in recognition of exceptional achievements.

The board of the Stig Anderson Music Award Foundation includes representatives from the Stig Anderson family, SKAP (The Swedish Society of Popular Music Composers) and STIM (The Swedish Performing Rights Society). The task of scrutinising nominations submitted and selecting the ultimate Laureates is undertaken by an award committee comprising of experienced members of the music industry, representatives from the Anderson family, musicians and previous Laureates.

With regard to Martin Sandberg, who writes under the name Max Martin, the official citation for the prize states that ‘melodies are like time capsules. Melodies define their time and are spread from person to person, across borders and across generations. In the last 20 years, no composer in the world has written melodies as sustainable or as widespread as those of Max Martin. Right now, at this very moment, someone, somewhere in the world will be singing a hit song written and produced by Max Martin. With his ear  for song melodies, his musical precision and craftsmanship, he has refined and developed the world’s popular music.’

Polar Music Prize 2016
Cecilia Bartoli. Photograph by Uli Weber/Decca.

‘If you can somehow influence popular culture, shape it in some way, when something becomes bigger than just a song, that’s the greatest thing for me… this is what I love about music. You can reach so many people… This prize is a great honour,’ said Max Martin. With a vocal range of three octaves and a unique ability to live a role with fullness of expression, Cecilia Bartoli has developed song as an art form.

Bartoli has spellbound audiences in the world’s great opera houses, but is not content with the well-known repertoire. She has also dug deeply into the history of music and presented longlost music from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries that is completely new to today’s audiences. Bartoli adds new chapters to the history of music, builds bridges between centuries and deepens our understanding of Europe’s cultural heritage. Bartoli shows us that raised voices can change the world.

Many things are different when Cecilia Bartoli sings. Critics look for new metaphors because everyday vocabulary is not sufficient. It is said that her throat ‘must hide a nightingale’s nest’ and in fact ‘declarations of love’ are pure and simply appropriate… The Bartoli phenomenon. It can’t be expressed in down-to-earth language or in facts and figures. However they prove in their own way how much Cecilia Bartoli moves people with her music.

More than 10 million of her video and sound recordings have been sold worldwide. According to these figures, Bartoli is currently the most successful classical artist. Her recordings have occupied the top positions in the international pop charts for more than 100 weeks. As these facts show, Cecilia Bartoli is one of the most popular artists of our time.

I must say, this award is so completely different from all other prizes and awards I have received until now. It is a great honour to share it with dear colleagues from the classical business… to be a Laureate together with my very huge idols… this is what makes the Polar Music Prize so unique.

Max Martin and Cecilia Bartoli received the award on 16 June from the hand of His Majesty, King Carl XVI Gustaf in Stockholm.

For more information on the prestigious prize, visit the Polar Music Prize website.

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