Paul Simon, Yo-Yo Ma win Polar Music Prize

American singer-songwriter Paul Simon and Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma have been named winners of Sweden's Polar Music Prize.

Swedish prize given annually to one pop, one classical artist

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma earned praise for his eclectic repertoire. (Michael O'Neill/Polar Music Prize)

American singer-songwriter Paul Simon and Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma were named winners of Sweden's Polar Music Prize on Tuesday.

Created by Stig Anderson, the late manager of Swedish pop group ABBA, the Polar Music Prize is a prestigious international award worth one million kronor (about $146,000 Cdn). Since 1992, it has been awarded annually to two musicians: one classical and one pop artist.

French-born Ma was praised as "the leading cellist of our time" by the prize jury, which includes members of the Anderson family and representatives from Sweden's music industry.

"With a cello and curiosity in his wake, Yo-Yo Ma has, in travelling routes like the Silk Road, united people from every continent. Yo-Yo Ma is living proof that music is communication, passion and the ability to share experience," the jury said in its citation.

Ma is known for an eclectic repertoire that includes Chinese folk melodies and tangos as well as classical works. He has appeared on The West Wing and Sesame Street as well as on concert stages.

Paul Simon was dubbed a world-class songwriter by the Polar Music Prize jury. (Polar Music Prize)

The jury called Simon a "world-class songwriter," praising the former member of '60s folk duo Simon & Garfunkel for his work, which includes groundbreaking collaborations with South African and Brazilian artists. 

"For five decades, Paul Simon has built bridges not only over troubled waters but over entire oceans by (re)joining the world's continents with his music," the jury said in its citation.

"With consummate skill, innovative arrangements and provocative lyrics that never fail to capture the currents of his age, Paul Simon has compiled a library of songs which will remain open to future generations."

The two latest laureates will receive their prizes from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden at a gala ceremony in Stockholm on Aug. 28.