Strike up the band
- classical music has gone sexy
IT WAS MEANT to be about the music. They always
tell you it is about the music. But when Myleene
Klass slipped on her ruffled white dress, she
threw the manuscript out of the window.
Classical Brit awards were held this week, and
taking a quick scan through the red- carpet photos,
only one thought comes to mind: flesh. Toned,
bronzed, beautiful flesh - and lots of it. Necklines
were dropped, hem lines were hitched, and the
result was altogether overwhelming. Classical
music just got sexy.
ceremony confirms what many have been saying for
a while. Stars like Klass - who shot to fame on
the Popstars television programme - are re-inventing
the classical charts and bringing them to the
forefront of mainstream attention. Sales of classical
albums rose by 8 per cent last year to 14 million,
a boost which has been attributed to populist
compilation albums such as Classic FMís Smooth
Classics and the new opera band Amici Forever.
The ultimate proof of this revival was provided
by Channel 4 in 2003, when it launched a reality
TV talent show called Operatunity, aimed at finding
the next big opera singers. And by big, I mean
all of this attention has not gone down well with
classical traditionalists. One commentator at
the Fifth Classical Brit Awards condemned the
event as "an orgy of unearned self-congratulation".
Other critics like baritone Thomas Allen have
asserted that the industry is being "dumbed
down" and "sexed to the detriment of
Rob Dickins, the chairman of the Classical Brit
Awards, disagrees. "The words Ďdumbing downí
are used to refer to every industry these days.
The point of this show is to open as many doors
into classical music as we can," he says.
the doors are opening. Klass is just one of a
host of young beauties that are enticing new faces
into the classical sections of HMV. The 27-year-old
has slimmed down since her days as part of the
ill-fated Hearsay pop band (a move which saw her
rated in the 100 Sexiest poll of ladsí mag, FHM),
and now presents a more mature, sophisticated
and, most importantly, talented package.
does Hayley Westenra, the 17-year-old from New
Zealand who has reached number one in various
worldwide pop charts. Katie Jenkins, the blonde
soprano from Wales is another one who took the
opportunity to showcase her considerable assets
- and she didnít even open her mouth.
of this is a long way from the 90s, when the hottest
star the classical world could offer was the raggle-tag
violinist Nigel Kennedy. Sure, he kept the spotlight
for a while, but other than the fact that he still
had plenty of hair to gel, he didnít really have
much to offer in terms of sex appeal. Charlotte
Church has now blossomed into something of a teenage
sex kitten, but just a few years ago it looked
unlikely that she could ever continue in the business
without her goody-two-shoes act. Having picked
up a few tips from her bad-boy ex, she is clearly
enjoying the new rockíníroll opera scene, and
picking up plenty of press interest as a result.
what traditionalists say, this canít be a bad
thing for the music industry. As it stood ten
years ago, classical music would have been lost
on the emerging generation, known only as the
backing track for club hits and airline adverts.
It also means talent is back on the requisite
list of the average A&R man.
stars have clearly learned a thing or two from
their pop counterparts when it comes to style,
but now the pop world will have to contend with
their talented and beautiful competition.
that means less of the manufactured nonsense with
which Myleene is so familiar, then this day hasnít
come a minute too soon.
thanks to Roger Mansbridge