Bocelli, Church Among Winners At Classical BRIT Awards

Inaugural event hopes to broaden audience for classical music.

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and soprano Charlotte Church were

among the winners at the inaugural Classical Brit Awards, which were held in

London, Saturday.

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

Devils Trill.

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

Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie.

Argentine pianist Martha Argerich won Female Artist of the Year,

beating out such contenders as Church and popular Italian mezzo-soprano

Cecilia Bartoli.

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

(click here...)