Awards to celebrate world classical music

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The classical music world will be presenting 19 of its leading lights with a bronze by Dhruva Mistry as the climax of a new set of awards, launched in association with the Independent and the Kenwood Corporation. Presented at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, on 8 January next year and televised on BBC 2 two days later, the International Classical Music Awards aim to celebrate musical performance in all its aspects - live and creative as well as


The Awards began life after a chance conversation two years ago between the television producer Ultan Guilfoyle and Bob Geldof, a partner of his in a production company. They saw the need for a high-profile public response to artistic, as opposed to commercial, success. Guilfoyle set up a group of advisers from music and broadcasting to invite nominations from musical organisations throughout the world. The awards jury, chaired by Andreas Whittam Smith, editor of the Independent, will include the opera director Gotz Friedrich, Lady Groves, the record producer Christopher Raeburn, and the New York Times critic John Rockwell.

Readers of the Independent and the BBC Music Magazine (first issue out in September) will vote for their own choice of Personality of the Year. Mr Whittam Smith said yesterday that this was not meant as a prize for being famous. 'I hope it is the person who has changed things, or made something happen that has not happened before,' he said. That may mean a performer, but it could equally well be a composer or almost anybody in musical life.

Kenwood, the Japanese audio company, has offered long-term sponsorship, and after two years in Symphony Hall the subsequent awards are expected to take place abroad: Berlin, Tokyo, Rome and Chicago are under discussion. The Independent will carry regular reports, and invitations for readers' votes will appear in the autumn.