Year-End Chart Analysis: Priests, 'Popera' Stars Shine On Classical Charts

The Priests, a group of holy men from Northern Ireland, and Il Divo, the "popera" boy band assembled by "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell, were the year's best sellers on the Traditional Classical and Classical Crossover charts, respectively.

Siblings Father Eugene and Father Martin O'Hagan along with Father David Delargy, known as the Priests, were the top-selling Traditional Classical act of the year, while their self-titled debut was the best-selling Traditional Classical album.

Rounding out the upper reaches of the Traditional Classical Artists and Albums lists are the familiar voices of Luciano Pavarotti and Placido Domingo with "The Duets" and "Amore Infinito: Songs Inspired…," respectively. The Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz, the religious musical sensation of 2008, returned with "Chant: Music for the Soul" at No. 4, while the act was No. 5 on the best-selling Traditional artist list. One rung up at No. 4 was Dutch conductor/composer/violinist Andre Rieu, whose "Live in Vienna" and "Greatest Hits" placed No. 7 and No. 8, respectively, on the album's list.

Academy Of Saint Martin In The Fields was the No. 6 best-selling Traditional Classical act, thanks to its recording of "Vivaldi: The Four Seasons" with Joshua Bell, the fifth best-selling album, followed by its "Bach: Concertos" with Julia Fischer, at No. 6.

Rounding out the top 10 best-selling Traditional titles are "Chopin: The Piano Concertos" by Lang Lang/Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (Mehta) and "A Christmas Festival" by John Rutter/The Cambridge Singers/Farnham Youth Choir/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Universal Classics Group was the top Traditional Classical label with a total of 64 titles, while RCA Victor snared the top imprint honors based solely on the success of the Priests.

Over on the Top Classical Crossover Artists chart, Il Divo was tops, while "The Promise," its sixth SYCO/Columbia title, was the best-selling crossover album.

Andrea Bocelli--whose "In Canto," "My Christmas," and "The Best Of Andrea Bocelli: Vivere," took the No. 2, No. 3, and No. 7 spots, respectively, on the Crossover Album chart--was the No. 2 Classical Crossover Artist. Yo-Yo Ma placed third on the Crossover Artists list, while "Yo-Yo Ma & Friends: Songs of Joy & Peace" was fourth on the album chart.

Erstwhile Police-man Sting, who created a big stir in the classical world in 2006 and 2007 when he topped the year-end list, returned to the annual chart as the No. 4 Crossover artist, while his holiday-themed "If on a Winter's Night…" clocked in at No. 5. Sarah Brightman's similarly seasonal-themed "A Winter Symphony" follows at No. 6, while the one-time Broadway star placed one notch higher on the Crossover Artist tally.

Rounding out the top 10 of the Classical Crossover Album chart are much-ballyhooed "Britain's Got Talent" tenor Paul Potts with "Passione," and violinist David Garrett's self-titled effort, followed by perennial favorites the Mormon Tabernacle Choir/Orchestra at Temple Square's "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing: American Folk Hymns & Spirituals."

Sony Music took the honors for Top Classical Crossover label with four titles, while Sugar was the top imprint with five albums placing.

Billboard’s year-end music chart recaps are based on data compiled during the chart year that began with last year’s Dec. 6 issue and ended with the Nov. 28, 2009, issue.