Sam Mendes and Damian Lewis praise inspirational music teachers

The stars revealed their love of classical music and the arts as they presented the Classic FM Music Teacher of the Year Award.

Sam Mendes Damian Lewis Music Teacher of the Year

Skyfall director Sam Mendes and Homeland star Damian Lewis surprised the Royal Albert Hall this evening with an appearance at the Music For Youth Schools Prom 2013. After watching the performances on stage at the Royal Albert Hall, they presented the Classic FM Music Teacher of the Year Award 2013 to Claire Hennie, Private Music Teacher Of The Year and Matthew Tiffany, Peripatetic Music Teacher Of The Year.

"It is a really big thrill to give this away to one of the inspirational teachers," Lewis said. "When I was roughly your age, 11 or 12, I sang in a chamber choir and had an inspirational teacher, Mr Woodgate, who rearranged Beatles tunes. And so, as an 11 year old I was able to sing Eleanor Rigby and I Love Her and other Beatles tunes in four-part harmony, and it's a memory I treasure to this day."

It's not just Lewis who was touched by classical music from a young age - his wife was also hugely inspired by an inspirational teacher.

"Many of you won't know this, but I'm in fact married to Narcissa Malfoy," he said. "When she was your age she sang here at the Schools Prom - she remembers that evening clearly, treasures it, and remembers how inspirational it was to her that night. You've all been  an inspiration here, inspired by teachers much like Claire and you've given us so much pleasure. Keep singing, keep playing from the heart."

Following Lewis' speech, Mendes took to the stage to present  Matthew Tiffany with his award.

"It's a real genuine pleasure standing here," said Mendes. "The last time I was standing here was almost a year ago for the royal premiere of Skyfall and I can honesty say I've enjoyed myself much much more tonight than I did at my own premiere.

"It's been incredibly moving and inspiring to be in the presence of so many brilliant and wonderful young people."

Despite the positive atmosphere on stage, Mendes stressed the importance of ensuring the availability of classical music for young people, even in tough economic times: "The award winner tonight is obviously an inspiration but he was talking backstage about the funding for the North Leeds Music Centre, which has been cut by 25%. So for anyone out there who's listening, please don't! This stuff is too important for us and our children."

The Music For Youth Schools Prom brings together performances from young people around the UK under the age of 21, celebrating their musical achievements on a national stage. This year, 3000 young performers are showcasing their talents on stage at the Royal Albert Hall over three nights.

(Photo L-R: Jamie Crick, Sam Mendes, Damian Lewis, Claire Hennie, Matthew Tiffany, and Lord Puttnam)