Gabriel, Abreu win Polar Music Prize

May 12, 2009 5:06:32 AM PDT
British musician Peter Gabriel and Venezuelan composer Jose Antonio Abreu on Tuesday were named the winners of the 2009 Polar Music Prize. Gabriel and Abreu will each receive a 1 million kronor ($130,000) award at a ceremony later this year in Stockholm, the prize committee said. Abreu's part of the award was shared with a network he founded offering music classes and workshops to young people.

The Polar Music Prize is Sweden's biggest music award and is typically shared by a pop artist and a classical musician. It was founded by Stig Anderson, manager of Swedish pop group ABBA, in 1989.

The prize committee cited Gabriel, 59, for "his groundbreaking, outward-looking and boundary-busting artistry." The former Genesis frontman and Grammy-winner has made 11 solo albums, and his "Sledgehammer" video has been voted the best video of all time.

In 1980 he founded the World of Music Arts and Dance, or WOMAD ? a foundation that has presented more than 150 festivals in 40 countries.

He also founded Real World, a group of companies including a multimedia outlet. In 2000, he co-founded online British music distributor On Demand Distribution (OD2), which sold for millions to a Seattle company in 2004.

The citation said Abreu's work "shows us what is possible when music is made the common ground and thereby part of people's everyday lives."

Abreu, 70, founded "El Sistema," the National System of Youth and Children's Orchestras of Venezuela. It is a nationwide network of orchestras that has made Venezuela a powerhouse for producing talented musicians.

Last year's award was shared by British rock group Pink Floyd and U.S. soprano Renee Fleming.

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