Afghanistan's National Institute of Music (ANIM) and Ahmad Sarmast, its visionary founder and director, along with American heavy metal band Metallica have won the prestigious 2018 Polar Music Prize.
The award will be presented by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden on June 14.
The award panel said the Afghan ensemble "revives Afghan music and shows you can transform lives through music."
The 2018 Polar Music Prize was awarded to ANIM and Sarmast “in recognition of how this inspirational organization has used the power of music to transform young people’s lives.”
In the 1990’s, Afghanistan’s rich musical heritage, which thrived for centuries, was abruptly halted by the civil war and from 1996 until 2001, music was forbidden and silenced throughout the country.
In 2008, Sarmast, the son of a famous conductor, returned to Kabul to establish ANIM. ANIM, a decade on, flourishes and is committed to preserving Afghanistan’s rich musical heritage and to providing a safe learning environment to hundreds of boys and girls.
The winners have been invited to receive their awards, including a cash prize of 1 million kronor ($124,000 USD) each, on June 14 from members of the Swedish royal family in Stockholm.
Previous winners of the Polar Music Prize include Sting, Elton John, Ray Charles, Paul McCartney, Ravi Shankar, Ennio Morricone, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Renée Fleming, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Isaac Stern, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Gilberto Gil, B.B. King, Emmylou Harris, Yo-Yo Ma, Patti Smith, Quincy Jones, Burt Bacharach, Dizzy Gillespie, Youssou N’Dour, Chuck Berry and Bruce Springsteen.
The prize is traditionally given to one person from the pop world and one from the classical or jazz genre.