Entertainment

Patti Smith, Kronos Quartet win Sweden's Polar Prize

American string ensemble Kronos Quartet and punk poet Patti Smith have won the 2011 Polar Music Prize, Sweden's most prestigious music award.
San Francisco's Kronos Quartet has 'revolutionized the potential of the string quartet,' the Polar Prize jury said. (Jeppe Gudmundsen-Holmgreen/Polar Prize)

American string ensemble Kronos Quartet and punk poet Patti Smith have won the 2011 Polar Music Prize, Sweden's most prestigious music award.

The prize committee announced winners of the one million kronor ($166,000 Cdn. ) prize on Tuesday. The prize, founded by ABBA band member Stig Anderson, is traditionally shared between a pop figure and a classical artist.

Smith, 64, was an influential component of the New York City punk rock movement, beginning with her 1975 debut album Horses.  She went on to become a poet, a visual artist, and, more recently, winner of the National Book Award for her memoir Just Kids.

Patti Smith, shown in archival photo, is hailed for her wide-ranging influence as a rocker and poet. (Polar Prize)
Smith "transformed the way an entire generation looks, thinks and dreams," the Polar Prize jury said in its citation.

"By devoting her life to art in all its forms, Patti Smith has demonstrated how much rock 'n' roll there is in poetry and how much poetry there is in rock 'n' roll."

The San Francisco-based Kronos Quartet is remarkable for its innovative approaches to music, including a collaboration with Nunavut's Tanya Tagaq.

The chamber music ensemble — with two violins, a viola and a cello — incorporates avant-garde rock and world music in its classical collaborations.

"For almost 40 years, the Kronos Quartet has been revolutionizing the potential of the string quartet genre when it comes to both style and content," the jury said in its citation.

The musicians will be invited to Stockholm later this year to accept the prize.