PM (Eng): Nile Rodgers and Esa-Pekka Salonen announced as 2024 Polar Music Prize Laureates

Stockholm, Tuesday 12 March: Nile Rodgers, award-winning songwriter, composer, producer, arranger, guitarist and co-founder of CHIC, and Esa-Pekka Salonen, esteemed conductor and composer, are announced today as recipients of the 2024 Polar Music Prize. The ceremony will take place on Tuesday 21 May in Stockholm at the Grand Hôtel and is broadcast live in Sweden on TV4 at 8pm (CET).

The Polar Music Prize has recognised and celebrated excellence in music for over three decades. Now Nile Rodgers and Esa-Pekka Salonen will join the ranks of trailblazers and innovators from the contemporary and classical worlds of music who have been awarded the Polar Music Prize, one of music’s most prestigious accolades. It will be presented at a ceremony in Stockholm in the presence of the Swedish Royal Family. Each Laureate will receive Prize money of one million Swedish Kroner (approx. £75,000 GBP and $94,000 USD).

Marie Ledin, managing director of the Polar Music Prize, said: “In Nile Rodgers, we honour a ground-breaking pioneer whose legacy spans his work as co-founder of CHIC and as record producer and creator behind so much of the world’s greatest music. Nile’s impact in pop culture is incomparable and his timeless songs will continue to delight, uplift and inspire for many years to come.

“Esa-Pekka Salonen is an innovator. His artistic curiosity, creativity and forward-thinking approach to composing and conducting paves the way in classical music. He is a master of tone, perfectly balancing sound and emotion to produce and lead music that deeply moves the listener.

“We are delighted to welcome both Nile Rodgers and Esa-Pekka Salonen as the 2024 Polar Music Prize Laureates. They are truly two icons of contemporary and classical music.”

On being awarded the 2024 Polar Music Prize, Nile Rodgers said: “This is a tremendous honour for me, I’ve had a love affair with the people of Sweden for as long as I can remember and your early acknowledgement of the art of people of colour from Eric Dolphy to Jimi Hendrix is very important to me. It’s particularly meaningful as so many of my favourite songwriters from Bjorn and Benny, Max Martin and my dear friend the late Tim “Avicii” Bergling have changed music all over the world. I’m so looking forward to coming to Stockholm to receive this amazing award.”

Esa-Pekka Salonen said: "I’m honoured and excited to be one of the recipients of this year’s Polar Music Prize. Sweden has long been a musical home to me. Many of my fondest experiences—my years with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Baltic Sea Festival, and the Stockholm International Composer Festival—have taken place here. But it’s the people and culture of Sweden who deserve so much of my gratitude. Without the pervasive support of some of the leading cultural institutions of this country, especially the Swedish National Radio, my musical biography would be missing several key details. I’m very much looking forward to joining Nile Rodgers in Stockholm this spring to receive this illustrious prize.”

Nile Rodgers is a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee and a multiple Grammy Award-winning songwriter, composer, producer, arranger, and guitarist. In 2023 he became the first creator to be awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy for his legacy in the same year as being awarded a Grammy for his latest work with Beyoncé on the smash hit “Cuff It”. As the co-founder of CHIC, Nile pioneered a musical language that generated chart-topping hits like “Le Freak”, the biggest selling single in the history of Atlantic Records, and sparked the advent of hip-hop with “Good Times” and “Rapper’s Delight”.
Nile’s work in the CHIC Organisation, including “We Are Family” for Sister Sledge and “I’m Coming Out” for Diana Ross, and his productions for artists such as David Bowie (“Let’s Dance”), Madonna (“Like A Virgin”), and Duran Duran (“The Reflex”) have sold more than 500 million albums and 100 million singles worldwide. His innovative, trendsetting collaborations with Daft Punk (“Get Lucky), Daddy Yankee (“Agua”), LE SSERAFIM ("Unforgiven”) and Beyoncé (“Cuff It”) reflect the vanguard of contemporary hits.

Esa-Pekka Salonen KBE is a Finnish conductor and composer. He is the music director of the San Francisco Symphony and Conductor Laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra in London, and Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. As a member of the faculty of the Colburn School in Los Angeles, he directs the pre-professional Negaunee Conducting Program. Salonen co-founded the annual Baltic Sea Festival, one of Europe’s leading classical music events taking place in Sweden. 
His compositions range from large-scale works for orchestra such as his recent Sinfonia concertante for organ and orchestra, Cello Concerto—composed for Yo-Yo Ma—and the Dadaist Karawane for orchestra and choir to virtuoso works for solo instrumentalists and chamber ensembles, and, recently, film scores. He has collaborated extensively with opera directors, choreographers, and other non-musical artists, and regularly incorporates cutting-edge technology into his work—most recently in a first-of-its-kind performance of Scriabin’s Prometheus with scents by Cartier’s head perfumer, Mathilde Laurent, and Grammy-nominated spatial audio recordings of works by Ligeti and Stravinsky.

The 2024 Laureates join a list of previous Awardees that includes the crème de la crème of music, such as Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Chuck Berry, Ennio Morricone, Led Zeppelin, Patti Smith, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Kronos Quartet, Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Metallica, Iggy Pop, Ravi Shankar, Renée Fleming, Miriam Makeba, Wayne Shorter, Sofia Gubaidulina, Angélique Kidjo and many more.

The Polar Music Prize awards committee which selects the Laureates is an independent 11-member board. It receives nominations from the public as well as from the International Music Council, the UNESCO-founded NGO which promotes geographical and musical diversity.

The 2024 Polar Music Prize sees a welcome return to the Polar Talks, a series of interviews, lectures and masterclasses that aim to find solutions to tomorrow’s social and creative challenges through the power of music. The Polar Talks bring together international artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, politicians and innovators to share perspectives and offer insight. Taking place on Monday 20 May, the line-up for 2024 includes an interview with Nile Rodgers, who will be joined by music industry executive and the Chairman and Founder of Hipgnosis Song Management, Merck Mercuriadis.


Nile Rodgers:

The 2024 Polar Music Prize is awarded to Nile Rodgers from the USA. Dance music has been played for thousands of years. However, there are few in history, if any, who have composed dance music as sophisticated and subtly arranged as Nile Rodgers. It is fitting that his group was named Chic: elegance is part of his musical hallmark. As a composer, producer and guitarist, Nile Rodgers turned disco and funk into an art form. His chop chord style of guitar playing, which he calls chucking, creates a hypnotic swing that has kept millions grooving on the dance floor. The songs created by Nile Rodgers for Chic, Sister Sledge, Diana Ross, David Bowie, Madonna, Daft Punk and many others are so well-crafted that they will outlive us all.

Esa-Pekka Salonen:

The 2024 Polar Music Prize is awarded to Esa-Pekka Salonen from Finland. His breakthrough came in 1983 when he conducted Mahler’s Symphony No. 3. As a composer, Esa-Pekka shares many similarities with Gustav Mahler. They have been equally prominent both as conductors and composers, and characterised by the same artistic curiosity. On stage and in the studio, Esa-Pekka Salonen embraces technological innovations, not simply for the sake of experimentation, but as a way to help people discover great music in the constantly changing world of media. Esa-Pekka Salonen is a master of tone in soul and heart. With his resolute baton, he not only guides symphony orchestras but points the way for all classical music.


The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by Stig ”Stikkan” Anderson, a true legend in the history of Swedish popular music. Stig Anderson was the

publisher, lyricist and manager of ABBA, and he played a key role in their enormous success. The prize, named after Anderson’s legendary record label Polar Music, celebrates the power and importance of music and is awarded to individuals, groups or institutions for international recognition of excellence in the world of music.