Sony BMG Masterworks Named No. 1 Top Classical Label, Takes Top Spots in Every Traditional Classical Category in Year-End Issue of Billboard

Newly Merged Classical Division Also Ends Its First Year With Four Grammy Nominations, Plus Three Newly Released Film Soundtracks Contending for Golden Globes


In the first year since Sony Classical and BMG Classics merged to form Sony BMG Masterworks, the label has taken the No. 1 spot in every Classical category in Billboard's 2005 year-end issue, including Top Classical Label. Under the direction of Gilbert Hetherwick, who was named President of the division in January 2005, Masterworks has released five of the year's seven Top Classical Albums, and four of its artists are among the eight Top Classical Artists.

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These honors were announced shortly after Masterworks received four nominations for the 48th Annual Grammy Awards. Two nominations went to five- time OscarĀ®-winning composer/conductor John Williams for the original soundtrack recording of "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith" -- in the category of Best Score Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media, and in the category of Best Instrumental Composition, for the "Anakin's Betrayal" track. One nomination each went to pianist Evgeny Kissin for his recording of Russian piano music, and to Sony Classical producer Steven Epstein, as Producer of the Year Classical for three recordings, two of which were Masterworks releases. The 48th Annual Grammy Awards will be presented in Los Angeles and broadcast live on CBS on Wednesday February 8, 2006.

Billboard named Masterworks the year's Top Classical Label, with 11 titles charting during 2005. Sony Classical was named Top Combined Classical Imprint, with 20 titles that charted in 2005.

Sony Classical's "Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone" -- with cellist Ma playing the film music of Morricone, conducted by the composer -- was the year's No. 1 Top Classical Album, followed at No. 2 by Red Seal's "The 5 Browns," introducing the five-piano ensemble of brothers and sisters. The top 15 titles in that category also included Sony Classical's "Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon" with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble (No. 4); Sony Classical's "Romance of the Violin" with violinist Joshua Bell (2004's No. 1 Top Classical Album, continuing this year at No. 5); and Sony Classical's "Vivaldi's Cello" with Ma, conductor Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra (No. 7).

Not surprisingly, Yo-Yo Ma was named the year's No. 1 Top Classical Artist, with four releases. The 5 Browns followed at No. 3, with Joshua Bell at No. 5, and The Silk Road Ensemble at No. 8.

In the Classical Crossover categories, Masterworks came in No. 4 among the Top Classical Crossover Labels, with 10 charting titles. Additionally, Sony Classical was the No. 3 Top Classical Crossover Imprint. Among Top Classical Crossover Artists, the London Symphony Orchestra came in at No. 4 for a pair of charting Sony Classical releases, and composer/conductor John Williams came in at No. 7 for two Sony Classical releases. In the category of Top Classical Crossover Albums, Sony Classical's "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" came in at No. 4, and singer Mario Frangoulis's "Follow Your Heart," for Sony Classical, was No. 10.

Continuing its unparalleled success with score soundtrack recordings, Masterworks released three soundtracks in December that immediately began to figure in the year-end awards races. The buzz is building for all three -- "Memoirs of a Geisha," "The Producers: The Movie Musical" and "Syriana" -- in a busy season that culminates in the January 31 announcement of the nominations for the 78th Annual Academy Awards, to be presented on March 5, 2006 and broadcast live on ABC.

The original scores for "Memoirs of a Geisha" (by John Williams) and "Syriana" (by Alexandre Desplat) were nominated for Golden Globes in the category of Best Original Score, and the song "There's Nothing Like a Show on Broadway" from "The Producers: The Movie Musical," with music and lyrics by Mel Brooks, is a Golden Globe nominee for Best Original Song. The 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards will be presented in Los Angeles and broadcast on NBC on January 16, 2006. All three soundtrack recordings from Masterworks are currently in stores.

In addition, "The Producers: The Movie Musical" was nominated for Best Soundtrack and, for his score for "Memoirs of a Geisha," John Williams was nominated for Best Composer in the 11th Annual Critic's Choice Awards of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the world's largest and most prominent film critics group, to be presented Monday, January 9, 2006, and broadcast on the WB Network. The International Press Academy, an association of international journalists who cover Hollywood, named Harry Gregson-Williams' score for Kingdom of Heaven the year's best in the group's Golden Satellite Awards, presented on December 17, 2005. Sony Classical released the original soundtrack recording of "Kingdom of Heaven" in the Spring of 2005.

Hitting the top 10 on Billboard's Classical Crossover chart each week since its release, the soundtrack of "Memoirs of a Geisha" features a sumptuous John Williams score that was written with its stellar soloists in mind -- cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Itzhak Perlman. Ma and Williams are slated to perform a selection from the score in a rare joint TV appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Monday, February 6, 2006.

RCA Red Seal, Sony Classical, deutsche harmonia mundi, and Arte Nova are labels of SONY BMG MASTERWORKS. For e-mail updates and information regarding RCA Red Seal, Sony Classical, deutsche harmonia mundi and Arte Nova artists, promotions, tours and repertoire, please visit

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