The UK music industry is built on talent and excellence in promoting it. London leads the world for the range of music available throughout the year. In classical music alone London has four symphony orchestras with public subsidy, as well as two major international opera houses, one devoted to opera in English. The UK is also home to international events such as the Leeds International Pianoforte Competition and the biennial Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.
The UK continues its leading status in pop and rock music. The pop scene is fast-moving with new girl bands, boy bands, funk, techno and house bands moving rapidly from the regional clubs to UK chart and international status. UK garage sprung out of London clubs to take the charts and the US by storm. Asian Underground fuses samples of Indian classical and Bollywood with breakbeat, jazz and electronica and has leading exponents such as Talvin Singh and Nitin Sawhney. In recent years, Welsh bands - including Stereophonics, Catatonia, Manic Street Preachers and Super Furry Animals - have won international acclaim; the latter's fourth album, Mwng, was produced entirely in Welsh. Home-grown black talent is a very strong sector with singers such as Craig David sweeping the awards. Electronica acts such as Massive Attack, Chemical Brothers, Underworld and Aphex Twin continue to make highly successful yet experimental club music.
Meanwhile, long-established musicians grow in stature. Phil Collins, Elton John, David Bowie, Sting, Paul McCartney are all writing and performing all over the world, winning awards for their influence on music, for film soundtracks or recent work. Newer to the scene, Robbie Williams's achievement in successive Brit Awards (for British pop music) makes him the most honoured of UK singers in many years.
The British appetite for music extends far beyond pop, rock, classical and opera. There's a long and healthy tradition of folk music too. In Northern Ireland, bands perform in pubs and clubs; there are Scottish and Welsh festivals honouring Gaelic and Celtic music. Jazz and blues are also popular and celebrated at national festivals.