Reuters/Billboard, 19 October 2007
By Anastasia Tsioulcas
Gramophone Awards tap into fountain of youth
NEW YORK (Billboard) - There were a few surprises among the winners at this year's Classic FM Gramophone Awards, which take place in early October in London and are arguably the most prestigious honors in the classical music industry.

While several industry veterans were among the winners, a bevy of twenty- and thirtysomethings won as well -- and their prizes will certainly help amp up their international profiles.

For starters, there was violinist Julia Fischer's "people's choice" prize as artist of the year. Another winner poised to become better known is Jonas Kaufmann, whose album of Richard Strauss lieder on Harmonia Mundi with pianist Helmut Deutsch won the prize for solo vocal album. The 38-year-old German tenor just signed an exclusive recording contract with Decca; his first album for the label, which will include arias by Verdi, Gounod, Bizet, Wagner and Puccini, is anticipated for release next spring.

The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and its youthful conductor, 31-year-old Vasily Petrenko, picked up two wins between them: the Classic FM Magazine Award for audience innovation and the young artist award, respectively.

The Liverpool Phil has been earning a fair amount of ink for a live concert it gave in the online world of Second Life in September. According to the orchestra, 9 million Second Life denizens watched the performance live on Second Life's own cable network, and the broadcast repeats every couple of hours through November. (It's available on demand to Second Life "residents.") Seeing the Liverpool Phil's success, it seems likely that other orchestras and classical performers will follow the orchestra's lead into virtual reality.

Special recognition went to conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. Given jointly by classical WQXR New York and Gramophone magazine, this award acknowledged the worldwide influence these players have had on listeners and the life-changing impact the program, also known as El Sistema, has had on its own musicians. Since its founding 30 years ago, El Sistema has helped bring music to underprivileged and at-risk players and listeners throughout their home nation, and inspired similar programs in other countries.

For the complete list of award winners, go to

(Anastasia Tsioulcas is a Gramophone contributor, but is not directly connected to the Classic FM Gramophone Awards and did not vote for them.)


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