The much prophesied "death" of "classical music" may have not only just been announced but also proven.

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday, 8 June 2011 | 12:49:00 am

New-style Classic Brits Awards doubles TV viewing audience
A revised format helped the Classic Brits – formerly the Classical Brits – to double its TV audience year-on-year when it aired over the Bank Holiday Weekend.

Organiser the BPI took the decision to shake up the show’s format this year to include a name change as well as to embrace a more diverse range of musical genres, such as musical theatre.

This resulted in performances this year from Alfie Boe with the cast of Les Miserables and a finale celebrating the work of John Barry, including a performance of Goldfinger by Dame Shirley Bassey.

It was a decision that enraged some classical purists. However, it appears to have paid off in terms of attracting a wider audience: the show took place on May 12 at the Royal Albert Hall in London and was then screened on ITV 1 on Sunday May 29, pulling in an average audience of 2.3m and a 14% audience share.

This compares to an average audience of 1.1m last year and was almost half the 4.8m audience the main Brit Awards recorded this year – although this was its lowest audience since 2006.

Events director Maggie Crowe said the Classic Brits had to prove its worth to ITV this year and it succeeded in doing so.

“We were trying to make it a bit more accessible to the masses ,” she said. “It showed that we touched a lot of people by changing the format. It has made it more acceptable.”

Last year’s Classical Brits was also shown on ITV1 on a Sunday, meaning it was a relatively straightforward comparison, although this year’s programme did benefit from being on a Bank Holiday weekend.

Crowe said one factor in this strong TV performance was the support of ITV, which used the two-week gap between the show taking place and its air date to put together impressive trailer packages featuring performances from the night.

“It shows our close relationship with ITV,” she said. “They have got great results off the back of it at a time when, let’s be honest, TV viewing is not what it was.”

Crowe also highlighted the fact that viewing figures stayed consistently above the 2m mark over the two-hour show, with such consistency unusual for awards shows.

As for the detractors, Crowe pointed out that the awards categories themselves haven’t changed – nor are they likely to – and attracting more viewers can only help the more core classical artists who still appear.

“Would Anne-Sophie Mutter and Eric Whitacre have been heard by the masses before?” she said.

Another factor in the strong performance was understood to be the decision to include footage from the red carpet at the beginning of the show, a move intended to add glamour to proceedings.

With the Classic Brits performing well on ITV this year, Crowe said that the name and format change were here to stay.(Ed: Perhaps Il Divo can win "Classical Music Performers of the Century" every year from now on?)

“The amount that we can do within that broader title really excites us,” she said.(Ed: naked mud wrestling?)

Crowe also revealed that every single artist who had performed at the Classic Brits had experienced a sales uplift: Alfie Boe’s Decca album Bring Him Home looked set to climb back into the top 40 yesterday (Sunday).

Source: Music Week