Afghan institute that empowers girls and pioneers of hard rock, Metallica win music’s ‘Nobel Prize’

1 / 2
Musicians Robert Trujillo (L) and James Hetfield of Metallica perform onstage at the Rose Bowl on July 29, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP)
2 / 2
Afghan music students play during a rehearsal at The Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul. In the face of death threats and accusations they are dishonoring their families by daring to perform, the women of Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestra are charting a new destiny for themselves through music (Wakil Kohsar/AFP)
Updated 14 February 2018
0

Afghan institute that empowers girls and pioneers of hard rock, Metallica win music’s ‘Nobel Prize’

STOCKHOLM: An Afghan music institute that has empowered girls in the war-torn country and metal pioneers Metallica on Wednesday shared the Polar Music Prize, often called music’s Nobel.
The laureates will each receive one million Swedish kronor (101,000 euros, $125,000) at a televised gala in Stockholm on June 14 in the presence of King Carl XVI Gustaf.
The Afghan National Institute of Music was honored along with its founder, Ahmad Sarmast, who started the school in 2010 in a rare coeducational initiative in the war-torn country.
The institute, which teaches both Afghan and Western music, helped generate the country’s first all-female orchestra which performed last yar at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Sarmast, who has faced substantial risk in a country where both music and girls’ education was banned under the repressive 1996-2001 Taliban regime, said he was “very excited, honored and privileged” to win the prize.
“We believe that our two recipients, although from very contrasting worlds, exemplify the mission of the Polar Music Prize, and that is to honor musicians and music organizations whose work has made a difference to people’s lives,” Marie Ledin, managing director of the award, said in a statement.
“Metallica is loved and admired by millions of hard rock fans across the globe,” she said.
Sarmast and the music institute, meanwhile, have worked “to restore the joy and power of music to children’s lives,” she said.
Metallica is one of the most influential bands in heavy metal, helping bring the angry and aggressive music to the mainstream and preserving an avid fan base for decades.
Lars Ulrich, the California band’s Danish-born drummer, called the Polar Music Prize “a great validation of everything that Metallica has done over the last 35 years.”
“At the same time, we feel like we’re in our prime with a lot of good years ahead of us,” Ulrich said of the band, which released its 10th album, “Hardwired... to Self-Destruct” in late 2016.
The Polar Music Prize was established in 1989 by the late Stig Anderson, best known as the manager of Swedish pop superstars ABBA, and selects two laureates each year.
The prize’s stated goal is to “break down musical boundaries by bringing together people from all the different worlds of music.”
Past laureates have included Sting, Bob Dylan, Bjork, Sonny Rollins and Ravi Shankar.


What We Are Reading Today: The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter

Updated 20 August 2018
0

What We Are Reading Today: The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter

In the Louvre museum hangs a portrait that is considered the iconic image of René Descartes, the great 17th-century French philosopher. 

And the painter of the work? The Dutch master Frans Hals — or so it was long believed, until the work was downgraded to a copy of an original. But where is the authentic version, and who painted it? Is the man in the painting — and in its original — really Descartes?

A unique combination of philosophy, biography, and art history, The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter investigates the remarkable individuals and circumstances behind a small portrait.

Through this image — and the intersecting lives of a brilliant philosopher, a Catholic priest, and a gifted painter — Steven Nadler opens a fascinating portal into Descartes’s life and times, skillfully presenting an accessible introduction to Descartes’s philosophical and scientific ideas, and an illuminating tour of the volatile political and religious environment of the Dutch Golden Age.

 As Nadler shows, Descartes’s innovative ideas about the world, about human nature and knowledge, and about philosophy itself, stirred great controversy. Philosophical and theological critics vigorously opposed his views, and civil and ecclesiastic authorities condemned his writings. Nevertheless, Descartes’s thought came to dominate the philosophical world of the period, and can rightly be called the philosophy of the 17th century.

 Shedding light on a well-known image, The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter offers an engaging exploration of a celebrated philosopher’s world and work.

Steven Nadler is the William H. Hay II professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin — Madison. His books include Rembrandt’s Jews, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Spinoza: A Life, which won the Koret Jewish Book Award; and A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza’s Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age (Princeton).