May 22, 2006

Polar Music Prize

May 22, 2006
Polar Music Prize

Led Zeppelin receives the Polar Music Prize.


The POLAR MUSIC PRIZE presented on Monday 22 May for the fifteenth year in succession. The laureates were the Russian conductor Valery Gergiev and the British rock group Led Zeppelin. Each laureate received prize money to the amount of one million Swedish kronor.

His Majesty the King of Sweden awarded the prizes during a nationally televised (TV4) ceremony, which took place at the Stockholm Concert Hall. The subsequent banquet and after-party were held at the Grand Hotel’s Winter Garden and Berns respectively.

Her Majesty the Queen, HRH Crown Princess Victoria, HRH Princess Lilian, Minister for Education and Culture Leif Pagrotsky, Minister for Foreign Affairs Jan Eliasson, the British Ambassador in Sweden Anthony Cary, the Russian Ambassador Alexander M. Kakadin, and County Governor Mats Hellström attended the festivities together with representatives of the world of culture and industry, members of the Stig Anderson Music Award Foundation, members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, sponsors and official suppliers.

The Polar Music Prize, which was inaugurated by Stikkan Anderson in 1989 through a donation to the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, is one of the world’s most unique and prestigious music prizes. According to its charter, the prize is to be awarded to a musician or musicians of any nationality for “significant achievements in music and/or musical life, or for achievements which are believed to be of great potential importance for the advancement of music and/or musical life” and “shall cover all fields within music or be closely connected with it”.

Petra Nordlund McGahan was the host at the Stockholm Concert Hall. The prize-giving ceremony opened with a performance of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” by Swedish rock group The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, who recently toured with Robert Plant. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the leadership of conductor Mikhail Agrest from the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, where Maestro Gergiev is Artistic Director and Principal conductor, performed “Waltz” from Serenade C-major op. 48 for String Orchestra by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, “Gavotte” from Symphony No. 1 D-major “Classical” op. 25 by Sergey Prokofiev, and “Overture” from “Ruslan and Lyudmila” by Mikhail Glinka. The Orchestra also supported Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk for a rendition of “Farewell, you native hills and fields” from The Maid of Orléans by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. To pay tribute to Led Zeppelin, Nina Persson from The Cardigans sung “Whole Lotta Love” and Maja Ivarsson from The Sounds gave her interpretation of “Rock and Roll”. The prize-giving ceremony ended with a performance from The Soundtrack Of Our Lives and their charismatic singer Ebbot of “Babe I’m gonna leave you” by Led Zeppelin.

Jon Lord, former member of Deep Purple, read the tribute to Led Zeppelin, while composer and former Polar Music Prize laureate Sofia Gubaidulina read the tribute to Valery Gergiev.

At the subsequent banquet in the Grand Hotel, host Rickard Olsson interviewed Mr Page, Mr Plant and Mr Jones, the Minister for Education and Culture Mr Leif Pagrotsky and other speakers, who explained the reasons for the awards.

The guests at the banquet were served Assorted Swedish specialities as an hors d'oeuvre, lemon and sage fried fillet of veal with veal confit, gnocchi and truffle cream as a main course, and Strawberries with vanilla ice cream for dessert. The pianist Roland Pöntinen, singers Ivonne Fuchs and Karin Ericsson, Swedish folk group Väsen, and Conny Bloom and the Harvest of Earthly Delights gave highly enjoyable and well-received performances.

The Polar Music Prize after-party at Berns also offered live entertainment from Swedish rock band Marrakech together with traditional hot dogs and beer.

A week of activities was arranged in connection with the presentations. This music festival is the realisation of donor Stikkan Anderson’s vision that the prize should be a festival of music that gives the general public an opportunity to experience the deeper qualities of the laureates and their music. The festival ended with a concert by Valery Gergiev and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra performing Symphony No. 11 by Shostakovich.

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