Alison Balsom wins Gramophone Classical Music Award

Alison Balsom Balsom was named artist of the year in 2011 at the Classic Brit Awards

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Trumpeter Alison Balsom has become the first British woman to win artist of the year at the prestigious Gramophone Classical Music Awards.

"I'm so thrilled. I could not think of a better way to end the best summer of my life," she said.

Balsom made her debut at Shakespeare's Globe earlier this year with Gabriel.

The musician collected her award, which is regarded as the most important of the classical music world, at a ceremony in central London on Tuesday.

Recording of the year went to a tribute to the astronauts killed in the Columbia space shuttle disaster in February 2003.

All seven astronauts on board died when the spacecraft disintegrated while re-entering the Earth's atmosphere.

The album, Seven, by Moldovan virtuoso violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, was chosen from more than 800 new releases.

Other winners chosen by music critics and members of the industry included Decca, which picked up label of the year.

Judges praised the label - home to Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Nicola Benedetti - for "renewing tradition, nurturing musicians and enriching lives".

Veteran guitarist Julian Bream, 80 - who was also a member of this year's judging panel, was honoured with a lifetime achievement award.

Balsom's latest accolade was voted for by thousands of classical music fans around the world.

It followed a successful year for the Classic Brit winner, who performed at the Proms and at the Latitude festival.

"I am enjoying making music more than ever at the moment and to be praised for it by the Gramophone Classical Music Awards and by everyone who kindly voted for me is simply more than I could ask for," she said.

Balsom closed the ceremony with a rendition of Henry Purcell's Fairest Isle (King Arthur) along with lutenist Arngeir Hauksson.

Guests on the evening included conductor Sir Mark Elder and Classic FM presenter John Suchet.

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