Amy Dickson, the Australian musician who elevated the saxophone from the nightclub to the concert hall, has been named Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the Classic Brits, marking the first victory for the instrument.
Ms Dickson, 31, is credited with leading an orchestral revival of the saxophone, rescuing the woodwind “newcomer” from its role as a sultry accompaniment to late-night seductions.
The Sydney-born Dickson, honoured alongside violinist Nicola Benedetti and the Chinese pianist Lang Lang at the Royal Albert Hall event, beat Friar Alessandro, the singing Franciscan brother, to the Breakthrough award.
Her album, Dusk & Dawn, which balances compositions by Debussy, Fauré and Chopin with a Tom Waits ballad and Nino Rota's theme for Fellini's La Strada, topped the UK Classical chart earlier this year.
Ms Dickson, who studied at the Royal College of Music in London, said the saxophone had been a latecomer to the orchestral world, since it was only created in the 19th century, after many of the great symphonies had been composed.
Ms Dickson told The Independent: “I was moved to happy tears when I heard I’d won. I think it’s a first for the saxophone and hopefully it will help get people’s minds around the idea of the classical saxophone.”
The musician, who says her next album will focus on classical concertos, added: “The sax is a relatively new instrument so it’s developing at a rate of knots. There are lots of different styles and tones of playing so it’s all opening up.”
Nicola Benedetti, triumphed for a second consecutive year in the Female Artist of the Year category, for her album The Silver Violin.
The acclaimed musician, 26, last week criticised the state of music teaching in Britain, telling The Independent that every young person should be “made” to study classical works to help them understand humanity.
Composer and pianist Daniel Barenboim was awarded his first Classic Brit Award for Male Artist of the Year, in recognition of his work on the albums Beethoven For All and Elgar/Carter: Cello Concertos.
Lang Lang, whose technical fireworks and showy stage antics have split critics, was named International Artist of the Year, at the unashamedly populist event, screened by ITV. The award recognised his “efforts to broaden the popularity of the piano.” Benedetti and Lang Lang performed a duet for the first time at the event, playing the Armenian folk song Sabre Dance.
Hans Zimmer won Composer of the Year for his scores for The Dark Knight Rises and Man Of Steel. The German was also presented an award for his Outstanding Contribution to Music by Sir Michael Caine, one of the Dark Knight Rises stars. Zimmer, on piano, joined the London Chamber Orchestra, for a medley of his themes.
German operatic tenor Jonas Kaufmann also won his first Classic Brit for the 44-year-old’s album Wagner.
André Rieu & his Johann Strauss Orchestra became the first act to win the Classic FM Album of the Year category for three years running.
The event climaxed with a tribute to Luciano Pavarotti, whose posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to his widow Nicoletta Mantovani by one of the remaining Three Tenors, José Carreras.
The Classic BRIT Awards 2013 with MasterCard will be broadcast on ITV on Sunday 6 October at 10:20pm.
Classic Brits 2013 winners list
Composer of the Year
Hans Zimmer ‘The Dark Knight Rises OST’, Man Of Steel OST’ – Sony Classical
Male Artist of the Year
Daniel Barenboim ‘Beethoven For All’, ‘Elgar/Carter Cello Concertos’ – Decca
Female Artist of the Year
Nicola Benedetti ‘The Silver Violin’ – Decca
International Artist of the Year
MasterCard’s Breakthrough Artist of the Year
Amy Dickson ‘Dusk & Dawn’ – Sony Classical
Jonas Kaufmann ‘Wagner’ – Decca
Classic FM Album of the Year in association with MasterCard
André Rieu ‘Magic of The Movies’ – Decca
Outstanding Contribution to Music
Luciano Pavarotti (collected by widow Nicoletta Mantovani)