Welcome to
Polar Talks 2016

Polar Talks, presented by The Polar Music Prize, is an international series of inspiring talks and lectures on cutting edge topics. This year, artists, scientists, creatives and opinion makers coalesce around the central theme of ”The Power of Music.” The not-to-be-missed talks will focus on some of the myriad ways that music can produce powerful outcomes across a range of social, artistic and scientific disciplines. Music has the power to change the world and the Polar Talks inspires all who attend, to do just that.

Polar Talks will take place at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, Sergels Torg, in Hörsalen (3rd floor) on June 15, 12.30 – 16.30. Polar Talks seminars are free and open to everyone, but requires registration in advance via the form below. If you have registered but are not able to attend, please let us know by sending an email to talks@polarmusicprize.org.

(Photo: Annika Berglund, ©Polar Music Prize)

12:30 Doors open

Come early, have a coffee and mingle with the other guests!

13:00 Welcome!

Marie Ledin, Managing Director of the Polar Music Prize greets the audience together with Alfons Karabuda, Chairman of the Polar Music Prize Award Committee and Chairman of the Swedish Society of Songwriters, Composers & Authors


Music education can often be old fashioned and stifling, with too much emphasis on technique and not enough on individual creativity. How can the teaching of music create a perfect harmony between these competing demands? It is often said that creativity flourishes when individuals are challenged and feel challenged: if this is true, can educational institutions create these conditions for creativity to thrive? We will explore this with representatives from both the academic world, composers and artists.

Örjan Strandberg (Composer and Chairman for STIK – the Stockholm Innovators Association), Adam Baptiste (Artist), Andrea Dankić (PhD candidate in Ethnology at the Stockholm University), Peder Hofmann (Head of Education and Research office, The Royal College of Music in Stockholm). Moderator: Alfons Karabuda

13:40 Is Music Education for All a right or a privilege?

From two very different international perspectives, we will hear why music and arts education is so important. Professor Emily Achieng’ Akuno, from Kenya, talks about countries where education is either not widely accessible, seen as a rare luxury, and even considered subversive and dangerous. On the other hand, Sir Roger Gifford, Head of SEB in the UK, advocates the importance of music and arts education, and the important role that the business world can play in the promotion of culture and education.

Emily Achieng’ Akuno (Executive Dean and Professor of music and performing arts, Technical University of Kenya, Treasurer of International Music Council), Sir Roger Gifford (UK Head of SEB, Chairman of the English Chamber Orchestra and the City Music Foundation). Moderator: Ian Smith (Chair of the Board of the European Music Council, Member of the Executive Board of the International Society for the Performing Arts and Head of Music at Creative Scotland)

14:10 BREAK


Today the business world is moving faster than ever. Digitalization and globalization put a demand on companies and organizations to transform in order to meet their customers’ new behaviour and needs. What does this mean for an organization’s leadership? Is there a clue in using music to facilitate this transformation?

Hélène Barnekow (CEO of Telia Sweden), Eva Hillered (Songwriter and CEO/Founder of Sångskolan på nätet). Moderator: Lisa Lindström (CEO of Doberman)


In 2016 what ingredients are needed to create the next Swedish superstar? A roundtable discussion about technology and development between some of the most progressive players in the music business.

Helienne Lindvall (Songwriter, Journalist, Board director Basca and Head of Business Relations, Auddly), Michelle Kadir (Vice President Digital Business, Sony Music Sweden), Benji Rogers (Chief Strategy Officer/Co- Founder at PledgeMusic, Co-Founder of The Dot BlockChain Music Project & Radiary Creations)

15:25 BREAK


From hip hop in the small town of Malmö to the greatest pop hits in the world. A talk that follows the creative heritage and development of one of the world’s most successful songwriters. Music journalist Ametist Azordegan interviews Ali Payami, Swedish Grammy Award winning songwriter, producer and Max Martin collaborator (Taylor Swift, Ellie Goulding, Adam Lambert, The Weeknd and more).


In Alive Inside, filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals with dementia who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music. This moving documentary explores the power of music, the power  to bring meaning and connection, even for those we think of as lost. The film follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the non-profit organization Music & Memory. Dan fights against a broken healthcare system in the US trying to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it.

Dan Cohen (Founder of Music & Memory), Michael Rossato-Bennett (Writer, Director and Producer of Alive Inside and Executive Director of The Alive Inside Foundation), Itaal Shur (Composer for Alive Inside). Moderator: Martin Ingvar (Professor of Integrative Medicine at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet)

Alive Inside, the trailer


Stay around for a while, enjoy the view of Stockholm and mingle with the other guests!

17.00: Max Martin Master Class

In a world exclusive live talk, one of the 2016 Polar Music Prize Laureate discusses with interviewer Jan Gradvall his phenomenal song writing career and perhaps shares some of the secrets of his success. Extracts of songs will be played from Max Martin’s  20 year song catalogue and he will comment on how the magic was created.

This master class requires a separate ticket, ticket price is 80 SEK, tickets are available through Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, click here to buy your master class ticket.

Please note that a registration for Polar Talks does not automatically give access to this master class, a purchased ticket is needed.


Polar Talks are presented in collaboration with Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, Svenska Postkodlotteriets Kulturstiftelse and Stockholms Stad.

Special thanks to SKAP.