Yo-Yo Ma and Paul Simon win 2012 Polar Music Prize

STOCKHOLM - Acclaimed Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma and "world-class songwriter" Paul Simon, also of the United States, have won this year's Polar Music prize, organisers said in Stockholm Tuesday.

Born in Paris to Chinese parents and having grown up in the United States, "Yo-Yo Ma has dedicated his virtuosity and his heart to journeys of musical exploration and discovery around the world," the jury said in its citation.

"With a cello and curiosity in his wake, Yo-Yo Ma has ... united people from every continent," it said, adding that the 56-year-old cellist was "living proof that music is communication, passion and the ability to share experience."

As for 70-year-old Paul Simon, the jury insisted "nobody else is more deserving of the epithet of 'world-class songwriter'."

"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, referring to his smash hit "Bridge over Troubled Water" when he was part of a famous duo with Art Garfunkel in the 1960s.

"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 jury concluded.

The winners will receive one million kronor (112,400 euros, $146,100) in prize money from Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf at a ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall on August 28.

The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by the late Stig Anderson, the publisher, lyricist and manager of iconic Swedish pop group ABBA.

The prize, which has been awarded since 1992 when it went to former Beatle Paul McCartney, has also been won by American jazz star Dizzy Gillespie, Elton John, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd and Italian composer and conductor Ennio Morricone.

Last year, the prize went to the Kronos Quartet and the legendary US rock singer and poet Patti Smith.

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