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Chuck Berry and Peter Sellars Honoured at the 2014 Polar Music Prize

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SOURCE The Polar Music Prize

LONDON, August 26, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --

Chuck Berry was unable to attend ceremony due to illness  

Peter Sellars collects Prize from King Carl XVI of Sweden 

Keith Richards congratulated Chuck Berry on the honour  

"Chuck, congratulations Chuck! And also congratulations to Sweden for recognising Chuck Berry for what he is." - Keith Richards 

Chuck Berry and Peter Sellars were both honoured today as the Laureates of the 2014 Polar Music Prize, the world's most prestigious music accolade. Dave Edmunds, legendary British artist, collected the Award on Chuck Berry's behalf from His Majesty King Carl XVI of Sweden. The ceremony took place at Stockholm's Concert Hall and was attended by members of the Swedish Royal Family.

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Chuck Berry was unable to attend the event due to illness. Dave Edmunds, the British musician who cites Chuck Berry as a big influence on his career, read a speech prepared by Chuck Berry: "Unfortunately I am unable to travel, but my heart is in Sweden. I want to thank the King and the Royal Family for awarding me the Polar Prize. I understand what a great honor it is to be a recipient. I am sorry that I am unable to travel and receive this personally."

Keith Richards recorded a special video message in Chuck Berry's honour: "Chuck Berry, he just leapt out of the radio at me. I ate him basically, I mean I breathed him, it wasn't just food, he was the air I breathed for many years when I was learning guitar and trying to figure out how you could be such an all rounder. Such a great voice, such a great player, and also such a great showman, you know, it was all in one package, so basically if I listened to Chuck Berry I was full for the day.  

"Chuck, congratulations Chuck! And also congratulations to Sweden for recognising Chuck Berry for what he is."

Peter Sellars, American opera and theatre director, collected the Prize from King Carl XVI of Sweden. In his acceptance he said: "Thank you for this overwhelming Award…I must dedicate this Prize to my musical families who have adopted me, taught me, have been patient, generous and inspiring beyond anything that I could have imagined…Living with music everyday is already the most astonishing gift anyone could ask for."

Chuck Berry and Peter Sellars join previous Laureates Sir Paul McCartney, Dizzy Gillespie, Sir Elton John, Kronos Quartet, Ravi Shankar, Renee Fleming, Bob Dylan, Yossou N'Dour, Patti Smith, Pink Floyd, Mstislav Rostropovich, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, Led Zepplin and Ennio Morricone, who have all been honoured the prestigious Prize. In addition to the Prize, which was designed this year by leading Scandinavian jeweler Efva Attling, Laureates each receive a cash prize of £100,00 (US$ 150,000). This year's event was hosted by Swedish journalist Petra Nordlund McGahan and Swedish TV presenter Tilde de Paula.

The Polar Music Prize, the equivalent for music of the Nobel Prizes, was founded by Stig "Stikkan" Anderson, 25 years ago.  Anderson, who was the publisher, lyricist and manager of ABBA, named the prize after his legendary record label Polar Music and created it to 'break down musical boundaries by bringing together people from all the different worlds of music.'  This year's Laureates epitomise this aim: Chuck Berry is universally acknowledged as the pioneer of rock 'n' roll, releasing a string of classic songs such as 'Maybellene', 'Roll Over Beethoven', 'Rock & Roll Music' and 'Johnny B Goode'.

Peter Sellars, is an acclaimed American opera, theatre and festival director. He is seen as a visionary artist renowned for his innovative re-interpretations of classic works.  Sellars has directed more than 100 productions across the US and Europe.  One critic said of Sellars: " there's likely no-one so inspired or exuberantly creative as Sellars directing opera at the moment."

Musicians from all genres and from around the world, regard The Polar Music Prize as one of the highest accolades, that can be bestowed on them in their career.  The 2014 Laureates follow in the great tradition of the Prize.  

The board of the Stig Anderson Music Award Foundation includes representatives from the Stig Anderson family, SKAP (The Swedish Society of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) and STIM (The Swedish Performing Rights Society). The task of scrutinizing nominations submitted and selecting the Laureates is undertaken by an Award Committee comprising of experienced members of the music industry, representatives from the Anderson family, musicians, and previous Laureates.

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Notes to editors: 

Chuck Berry Citation: 

The Polar Music Prize 2014 is awarded to Chuck Berry from St. Louis, USA. The parameters of rock music were set one day in May 1955, when Chuck Berry recorded his debut single "Maybellene". Chuck Berry was the rock'n'roll pioneer who turned the electric guitar into the main instrument of rock music. Every riff and solo played by  rock guitarists over the last 60 years contains DNA that can be traced right back to  

Chuck Berry. The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and a million other groups began to learn their craft by playing Chuck Berry songs. Chuck Berry is also a superb songwriter. In the course of three minutes he conjures up an image of the everyday life and dreams of a teenager, often with the focus on cars. Chuck Berry, born in 1926, was the first to drive up onto the highway and announce that we are born to run. 

Peter Sellars Citation: 

The Polar Music Prize 2014 is awarded to Peter Sellars from Pittsburgh, USA. The director Peter Sellars is a living definition of what the Polar Music Prize is all about: highlighting the music and presenting it in a new context. With his controversial productions of opera and theatre, Peter Sellars has depicted everything from war and famine to religion and globalisation. Sellars has set Mozart in the luxury of Trump Tower and in the drug trade of Spanish Harlem, turned Nixon's visit to China into opera and set Kafka's obsession with home cleanliness to music. Peter Sellars shows us that classical music is not about dusty sheet music and metronomic precision, but that classical music, with its violent power and complexity, has fundamentally always been and will continue to be a way of reflecting and depicting the world. 

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