Esa-Pekka Salonen And Disco Pioneer Nile Rodgers Win 2024 Polar Music Prize

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Nile Rodgers, American songwriter and co-founder of the influential 1970s disco band Chic, and esteemed Finnish classical music composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen won the 2024 Polar Music Prize on Tuesday.

The Polar Music Prize is awarded annually to individuals, groups and institutions in recognition of exceptional music achievements. It was founded in 1989 by the late Stig Anderson, a Swedish publisher, lyricist and manager of ABBA, who established the record label Polar Music.

Rodgers and Salonen will each receive prize money of one million Swedish kroner (about $95,000) in ceremonies in Stockholm on May 21.

The award panel said Tuesday of the American guitarist, composer and producer: “There are few in history, if any, who have composed dance music as sophisticated and subtly arranged as Nile Rodgers,” who “turned disco and funk into an art” with his group Chic and songs like “Le Freak” and “Dance, Dance, Dance.”

“In Nile Rodgers, we honor a ground-breaking pioneer whose legacy spans his work as co-founder of Chic and as record producer and creator behind so much of the world’s greatest music,” Marie Ledin, managing director of the Polar Music Prize, said in a statement. “Nile’s impact in pop culture is incomparable and his timeless songs will continue to delight, uplift and inspire for many years to come,” she said.

Among others, Rodgers has created songs for David Bowie, Diana Ross, Madonna, Daft Punk and Sister Sledge.

Currently acting as the music director of the San Francisco Symphony and Conductor Laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Esa-Pekka Salonen “is an innovator,” Ledin said.

“His artistic curiosity, creativity and forward-thinking approach to composing and conducting paves the way in classical music,” she said. “He is a master of tone, perfectly balancing sound and emotion to produce and lead music that deeply moves the listener.”

Salonen saw a breakthrough in 1983 when he conducted Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the Philharmonia Orchestra in London.

The award panel praised Salonen’s embrace of technological innovations, “not simply for the sake of experimentation, but as a way to help people discover great music in the constantly changing world of media.”

During his long career, Salonen has also worked with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and he’s a co-founder of the annual Baltic Sea Festival, one of Europe’s leading classical music events taking place in Sweden.

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