The Blog

Why the Classical Brits Are the Pits...

The glitz, the glamour, oh darling you were maaarrvelous! Last night saw classical music's moneyed PR wallah back slap that forms the Classical Brit Awards. And oh what a show it was! The Royal Albert Hall lit up, champagne and the high fashion on show. All to celebrate the best in classical music. The Classic FM twitter boasts of all the attending celebs - such greats as 'choirboy Jack Topping', Britain's Got Talent failures 'Jonathan and Charlotte' AKA the lad that was really fat and then shocked everyone by singing good, and Snowman vocalist and Songs of Praise presenter Aled Jones! Now where did I leave my autograph book?

Last night's awards are the epitome of the stifling mass marketisation of the world's finest music. Break down the PR fluff and it shows exactly why the Brits is the worst example of an industry that knows the price of classical music, but has no clue about its value...

The formula is so fabulous they needn't change anything from year to year - not even the award winners. Especially as those same winners are the ones signed to major labels with the great marketing machines behind them. Album of the year goes to... Andre Rieu! What a surprise, his latest compilation of schmaltzy waltz goo has been eagerly snapped up by the cruise ship sailing blue rinsed old dears, and if Classic FM likes it, it's a winner! He didn't even turn up, after all he already has 2 identical awards in his downstairs loo.

Female artist of the year, for the second time on the trot, goes to Nicola Benedetti! One of the nation's most accomplished violinists seemingly trapped in the maelstrom of Classic FM advertisers and big label bean counters that placed her in that notoriously sexist interview in the Scottish Sun - her music speaks for itself, but the Scottish Sun had a lot to answer for with such pearls as:

'So I guess Nicola won't be posing for the lads' mags anytime soon. Pity, because she looks fit as a fiddle when we meet at Edinburgh's plush Sheraton Hotel. But Nicola doesn't always take the bonniest photo -- she's beaky in pics sometimes, which is weird because in the flesh she's an absolute knock-out'. It would be shameful, but this is the Scottish Sun. Hopefully her publicist booked their own interview at the Jobcentre.

Award specifically created for the sake of one individual goes to second rate pianist Lang Lang, who gets the International Artist of the Year gong. He's from China, he lives in New York, and he's best remembered for moving his head a lot when he plays.

Hosting the ceremony is Myleene Klass, one fifth of Popstars winners Hear'say, now resurrecting her career by turning up as UK classical music's ligger-in-chief. Apparently she's now cutting it as a classical pianist, in addition to hunting ghosties with Derek Acorah, brandishing knives at yobs in her garden and flogging a range of baby clothes (her label is called 'Baby K').

Composer of the year award goes to Hans Zimmer, the man behind the drony buzz in Batman, that drony buzzy sound in Shutter Island, that intermittent buzzy drone in Inception and some more film noise. In fact he deserves an award for making a career out of writing clunky 'atmospheric' music that is only bearable when accompanied by a pained Leonardo di Caprio shot.

Lifetime achievement award went to the late great tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Far be it from me to discern who would be deserving of such an award, but a good start would be someone who hasn't been dearly departed for six years. Of course, the bigwigs at the Classical Brits must be having trouble racking their brains for a name the daily papers will actually recognise.

Performed at this award ceremony for classical music (a period in music history seen as around 1720 to 1820), we heard the theme from 1983 comedy film Local Hero, by Dire Straights' own Mark Knopfler, we heard the Rogers and Hammerstein footie song 'You'll Never Walk Alone', from 1945, and 2001's Moulin Rouge song 'Come What May'. At least Lang Lang stuck some Chopin in the proceedings.

Meanwhile back in the real world, Local Authority music services are being slashed, the West Yorkshire music archive has been broken up and aspiring classical musicians are facing a daily struggle to play concerts for fees that are commensurate to a lifetime of practice and pay the rent.

The stranglehold of Classic FM on UK classical music is close to monopolistic - a radio station that is owned by Global Radio, who also delight our ears with the auditory hells that are Capital Radio and Heart.

Last nights' award ceremony is a manifestation of everything classical music shouldn't be. The most human, beautiful, awe-inspiring, intimate music the you could ever hear, sold as turgid plastic rubbish. This music speaks for itself and is available for anyone to listen to. Our stretched libraries have the CDs ready and waiting to us to borrow and there are concert seasons up and down the country that showcase the most talented and hardest working musicians in the industry.

Anyone who hears Schubert's Death and the Maiden, Janacek's In the Mists or Beethoven's Ninth Symphony will hear the nuance and the emotional power of music.

How this can be squared with this annual pretentious rubbish is incomprehensible. The organisers should spare us the spiel about how this highlights a sometimes maligned genre, as they have seemingly spared any classical music from the ceremony. The Classical Brits are truly the pits.