The Polar Music Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious music awards, now in its 28th year, has announced that the 2019 Laureates are queen of the violin, Anne-Sophie Mutter; hip hop pioneer Joseph Saddler, known as Grandmaster Flash; and the music charity The Playing For Change Foundation, part of the Playing for Change movement. Each Laureate receives prize money of one million Swedish Kronor (approx. R1.5 million). The Awards will be presented at a gala ceremony and banquet at Stockholm’s Grand Hôtel by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden on 11 June 2019.
Anne-Sophie Mutter is a musical phenomenon. For more than 40 years the German violinist has thrilled audiences around the world with her virtuosity and astonishing clarity. The four-time GRAMMY Award winner is equally committed to the performance of traditional and modern composers. To date, she has played the world premieres of 26 works, and has had many pieces composed for her. As well as a packed international concert calendar, Mutter dedicates herself to numerous benefit projects and, through her two charitable institutions, supports future generations of musicians. She says: ‘It is a huge honour to be in this illustrious group of musicians who have received the Polar Music Prize. I’m deeply honoured and humbled.’
Joseph Saddler, known as Grandmaster Flash, is one of the undisputed pioneers of hip-hop, a genre of music that is the dominant force in 21st-century popular music; he is rightly heralded as a hip-hop virtuoso. Grandmaster Flash emerged from the Bronx in the early 1970s and was one of the first to manipulate music by placing his fingers on the vinyl, perfecting beat-looping and discovering many of the iconic beats still commonly sampled today. He is a musician, a scientist, a storyteller and a cultural tour de force. He says: ‘It is such an honour, because a lot of times in our culture, what we do as DJs gets overlooked. So for me to be picked out of so many people, I am so, so deeply honoured.’
Whitney Kroenke, co-founder of The Playing For Change Foundation, says: ‘This is incredibly humbling and mind-blowing – we are ecstatic. We started the project so that musicians that would not otherwise be seen or heard, would have the chance to express themselves and be recognised. To be in the company of people that have made us all love music for so many years is truly an honour.’ The Playing For Change Foundation was founded in 2007 ‘to inspire, create positive change, connect and bring peace to the world through music.’ The foundation has now grown to 15 music programmes around the world. Every week, 2 000 young people attend classes in multiple disciplines of music and arts education funded by the foundation. So far over 15 000 people have been impacted by The Playing For Change Foundation.
The Polar Music Prize Award Committee is an independent eleven-member Award Committee that selects the Laureates. The committee receives nominations from the public as well as from the International Music Council.
The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by the late Stig ‘Stikkan’ Anderson, the publisher, lyricist and manager of ABBA, and he played a key role in their enormous success.
The Polar Music Prize celebrates the power and importance of music and is awarded to individuals, groups or institutions for international recognition of excellence in the world of music. The roll call of former Laureates reads like a who’s who of music: Paul McCartney, Dizzy Gillespie, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar, Renée Fleming, Ray Charles, Youssou N’dour, Mstislav Rostropovich and Kronos Quartet, to name but a few.