Peter Sellars and Chuck Berry, two cultural legends not normally given to sharing the same sentence, let alone the same stage, today were named co-recipients of Sweden’s annual Polar Music Prize. Each will take away 1 million SEK, about $153,000, and have dinner in August with His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf. The Polars were established in 1989 by Stig “Stikkan” Anderson, manager of the rock group ABBA, and are overseen by representatives from the Anderson family, SKAP (the Swedish Society of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) and STIM (the Swedish Performing Rights Society). The annual prizes go to a figure from pop music and one from the classical world. Last year’s winners were Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho and Senegalese pop star Youssou N’Dour. The brilliant, perennially spiky-haired Sellars has set operas in outer space, Spanish Harlem and on Cape Cod, ruled several tony cultural enterprises on both coasts and with varying degrees of success, and is a card-carrying MacArthur Foundation genius. If you need me to tell you who Chuck Berry is, well we’re both in the wrong place.
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