The Classical Music Awards 1994: Stars come together in a new wide world: Artistic barriers are falling in a celebration of the whole field, writes Robert Maycock

IF you are new to the world of classical music, you will know all about it being exciting to watch the tenor Jose Carreras, the composer Henryk Gorecki and the 13-year-old violinist Sarah Chang follow one another on to the same concert platform. But unusual? You need to have followed the scene for a while to see it that way.

Opera, contemporary music and instrumental music used to look like closed worlds, each with their own stars and fans and no room inside for anybody else. Now, at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday, here they were sharing in the Classical Music Awards 1994. Among other winners were the mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli and the Kronos Quartet, the Fourth Symphony of Witold Lutoslawski and, in a visually stunning Japanese production, Stravinsky's opera-cantata Oedipus Rex. Celebrating the whole field: that was the point.

The idea was sparked off between the television producer Ultan Guilfoyle and musician Bob Geldof. Enthusiasm and discovery were the driving forces. It is all too easy for an industry to set up self-congratulatory prizes that reward the famous for being famous. That would mean tough luck for pioneers and innovators and anybody who is not yet a best-seller. Instead, there needed to be a way of honouring those who have the respect of the musicians themselves and those who are catching the imagination of the public. The key question was to find the right way of choosing them.

A jury of people active in international music read, listened, watched, and then shortlisted their nominations for each category. Then, under the chairmanship of the Independent's editor, Andreas Whittam Smith, came the final decisions.' They stuck their necks out with cheerful abandon,' said Guilfoyle later - though the meeting itself was 'relatively bloodless'.

The verdicts feature on these two pages. Each winner received a copy of Dhruva Mistry's limited-edition award sculpture, a calm but powerful 11-inch bronze. They, or their nominees, came to the ceremony along with presenters Melvyn Bragg and Evelyn Glennie, the English Chamber Orchestra and their conductor Marc Soustrot. They emerged on a spectacular television- style set on the Royal Albert Hall stage - wich the composer Michael Berkeley, who had the job of warming up the audience before the show, described as 'an old friend decked out in a frilly negligee'.

And they made music. Soustrot and the ECO started them off with one of Benjamin Britten's vivacious Rossini arrangements, and marked the triumph of a festival of Nordic arts with a distinctly Gallic dash through a Grieg Norwegian Dance. Valery Gergiev, conductor of the year, went further up-tempo in Prokofiev, and Thomas Hampson soared over the orchestra with an aria from Verdi's Don Carlos.

There were surprises: Glennie turned from presenter to performer and delivered part of a concerto by Milhaud. Carreras, despite engagements in Germany the day before and the day after, appeared in person though he didn't sing. Other surprises were less welcome, including the inevitable disappointments of indisposition. Bartoli had to cancel on the morning of the show. But Lutoslawski, recovering from an operation, sent word that he was 'definitely on the mend'.

As is the way of events geared to television, the evening had its lacunae and longueurs - all destined to disappear in making Saturday's broadcast go with a swing. It had its memorable happenings too, some of the best quite unpredictable. The audience responded with remarkable warmth to the presence of Gorecki, who is able to accept this new-found adulation with a candid, disarming air of mixed delight and detachment. The award for an unwell Yuri Bashmet was accepted by Lillian Tertis, the widow of Lionel Tertis, the player who single- handedly gave the viola a new prominence in 20th-century music- making; her husband, she said, would have been glad of the way Bashmet kept the instrument's flag flying.

If there had been an award for soundbite of the year, the pioneering Kronos Quartet would have walked away with it. In their short video profile players said 'there's nowhere to 'cross over' to, because music is a spectrum of possibilities' and pronounced that 'most politicians are afraid of music and creativity, and that's precisely where we start'. They dedicated their award to the 'hundreds' of living composers who have made the quartet what they are.

'We are here to stay,' was the verdict of Andreas Whittam Smith on the awards process. No doubt there will be more developments next time. The critic John Rockwell, a jury member, thought the involvement of the jury in making the initial nominations had produced more adventurous ideas than a trawl of the industry. But he felt a larger jury would help to increase further the breadth of activities.

And there, no doubt, is the way ahead. Not so long ago the idea that wide audiences might enjoy new works alongside the classics seemed like a fantasy - far too specialist. Now that those barriers are falling, others come into sight: between opera and dance, ancient and modern, West and East, music played from scores and music improvised on the spot. It all sounds unlikely for now, but who is to say where we will be in a decade's time? Watch this space.

In association with Kenwood, supported by BBC Music Magazine and the Independent

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition