Friday evening's presentation of the first International Classical Music Awards honoured them and other illustrious colleagues as the 15 choices of a judging panel drawn from around the world and chaired by Andreas Whittam Smith, editor and chief executive of the Independent. Each winner received a copy of a limited-edition bronze by Dhruva Mistry.
As the announcements continued, with Julia Migenes and Melvyn Bragg as presenters, it became clear real musical achievement was being celebrated, not fame for its own sake. Several awards went to performers from the early music scene, one of classical music's most flourishing growth areas, and others - to a Viennese modern music festival and a new American opera - focused on the sharp end of current creativity.
A new piece of music was commissioned for the occasion from Dominic Muldowney. To the audience's delight this turned out to be a raucous, satirical polka.
The awards, made in association with Kenwood Corporation and the Independent, were conceived by the television producer Ultan Guilfoyle and Bob Geldof.
An hour-long television recording, made for countries in Europe, America and Japan, was broadcast last night on BBC 2.
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