Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and soprano Charlotte Church were
among the winners at the inaugural Classical Brit Awards, which were held in
While the awards ceremony may have been about honoring some of today's
greatest names in classical music, it was also aimed at reaching a wider
audience for the genre.
"Classical music is for everyone," said Britain's Minister for Culture Chris
Smith at the ceremony at Royal Albert Hall.
Smith was speaking out against those "stuffy people" who criticized the
event for its populist approach to classical music.
Populist it most certainly was, with awards going to British bad-boy
violinist Kennedy; Bocelli, the world's biggest-selling living
classical artist; and the 14-year-old Church, who even beats out
The Spice Girls as the most popular British artist in the U.S.
Church won the award for Best British Artist of the Year, while Kennedy was
honored with an award for Outstanding Contribution to Classical Music.
Bocelli won Album of the Year for his chart-topping Sacred Arias,
beating out Sir Paul McCartney and his crossover album, Working
Other musicians who took part in the ceremony (and who are helping to
broaden classical music's appeal) included 21-year-old violinist Vanessa
Mae, who opened the evening's proceedings with a pyrotechnic performance
of Storm and
Described by a magazine as "Mozart in Doc Martens," Mae posed in a
wet T-shirt for the cover of her debut CD.
But not all of the winners were artists who are widely recognized outside of
the field. The award for Young British Classical Performer did not go to
either Mae or Church, who were both nominated, but instead went to Daniel
Harding, a 24-year-old conductor who is the music director of the
Argentine pianist Martha Argerich won Female Artist of the Year,
beating out such contenders as Church and popular Italian mezzo-soprano
Male Artist of the Year went to Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel, who was up
against Bocelli, among others.
Ensemble/Orchestral Album of the Year went to Stephen Cleobury and the Choir
of King's College, Cambridge, for a recording of Rachmaninov Vespers.
The Critics Award, which was given for recordings by a British orchestra or
featured British performer, was presented to tenor Ian Bostridge for his
recital CD, The English Songbook.
For a complete list of winners of the classical Brit Awards