Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 15:48 UK

Awards honour for choral ensemble

Harry Christophers and The Sixteen
The Sixteen - led by Harry Christophers - are celebrating their 30th anniversary

Choral group Harry Christophers and The Sixteen have been named this year's Artist of the Year at the Classic FM Gramophone Awards in London.

Hailed as "the world's leading choral ambassadors", the ensemble also won the Baroque Vocal Award for their recording of Handel's Coronation Anthems.

"This is quite simply the icing on the cake to what has been an incredible year," said founder Harry Christophers.

"The Sixteen are a joy to conduct and, above all, they are also my friends."

The Sixteen were founded by Christophers as a group of 16 singers specialising in English music from the 16th Century.

Innovation

Now celebrating their 30th anniversary, the choral group have 75 titles on their own label and conduct an annual tour of the UK.

Veteran Austrian conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who turns 80 this year, gained the lifetime achievement award, while Chinese pianist, 22-year-old Yuja Wang was named Young Artist of the Year.

"Few conductors of any era have been as influential or revolutionary as Nikolaus Harnoncourt," said Gramophone editor James Inverne.

"He brought fresh and often provocative ideas to the art of classical music, ideas which inspired generations."

The recording of the year was presented to French string quartet Quatuor Ebene for pieces by Debussy, Faure and Ravel.

The Classic FM Innovation Award went to The Sun newspaper's heavily discounted ticket offer to readers for the first night of the 2008-09 season at the Royal Opera House.

The scheme was billed as a bid to "break down perceived barriers and reach new audiences".



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