The worlds of classical and rock music came together in Stockholm as 2008 Polar Music Prize winners Roger Waters and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd and American soprano Renée Fleming expressed appreciation for being named laureates of the award. The Polar Music Prize was founded and funded by the late Stig “Stikkan” Anderson, producer and manager of Abba, and first presented in 1992.
“It’s very important to me,” said Waters of the prize at a press conference. It will be presented by the King of Sweden in a ceremony scheduled for this afternoon (Aug. 26) at the Stockholm Concert House. “We seem to be a bit thin on prizes,” he said, explaining that the group had never received a Grammy.
“It’s not that I feel we need or deserve an award,” Mason added. “But it makes you feel like you are a part of history.”
Waters and Mason both made reference to the other original members of Pink Floyd, David Gilmour and Richard Wright. They reunited to perform a one-off set at Live 8 on July 2, 2005. Mason said their decision to play at that event was easy because it was such a worthy cause, adding, “Personally, I’d love to do some shows with the original band.”
Waters said he still picks up his guitar every day and plays, especially since “someone foolishly asked me to record a track for a Robert Johnson tribute album.”
Asked what they were going to do with the cash prize of one million Swedish Kronor ($157,000), Mason said it would be divided by four and each member of the band would decide which charity would benefit from their share.
Fleming, who has performed in opera houses in New York, Chicago and Vienna this season, said she sings 10 roles on a regular basis. “But I’m more interested in concert repertoires, [reaching] new territories and new audience,” she said. “I’m tremendously honored that the jury looked internationally.”
Previous Polar Music Prize laureates include Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Burt Bacharach, B.B. King, Led Zeppelin, Isaac Stern, Robert Moog and Gyorgy Ligeti.
The winners are chosen by a jury of 18, including working professionals from the Swedish music industry and three members of Stig Anderson’s family.