Look out Liam – school that made Amy and Adele comes to Manchester

 

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The Independent Online

Aspiring musicians will study how to become the next Morrissey or Liam Gallagher when a new Brit School for the performing arts opens in Manchester. The city, famed for its musical heritage, has been chosen to site a partner academy to the Brit School in Croydon, south London, which groomed Adele, Amy Winehouse and Jessie J for stardom.

Speaking at the school's 20th-anniversary celebrations, Ed Vaizey, the Culture minister, said the state-funded institution had been a "fantastic success", with its graduates selling 65 million records. He now wanted "a Brit School in every major city" in Britain.

Lord Baker of Dorking, the former Education Secretary who persuaded Baroness Thatcher to give permission for the Brit School, announced plans for a second academy. The institution would be one of a new wave of University Technical Colleges, which the Government has committed to funding, for 14- to 19-year-olds. Lord Baker said: "We hope to establish a new Brit School in Manchester as a University Technical College. The curriculum would be 50 per cent performing arts and 50 per cent technology. The technology and engineering skills that students need to work in the music industry are changing every six months."

Lord Baker said Manchester was an ideal location because the school could tap into the hi-tech facilities at the new BBC MediaCityUK complex in Salford. The intake is expected to be of a high quality, given Manchester's reputation for producing rock legends from The Smiths to Oasis as well its thriving dance-music scene.

The Manchester college will compete for the North-west's youthful talent against the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (Lipa), the fee-paying school backed by Sir Paul McCartney.

The Brit School is also the founding partner of the Birmingham Ormiston Academy, a new independent, state-funded school which will offer courses in the creative, digital and performing arts for 325 sixth-form students.

The Brit School for Performing Arts and Technology is the only free institution of its kind in the UK. Ministers, considering plans to improve musical tuition in schools, are impressed with its roll-call of hit artists, which includes Leona Lewis and Katie Melua.

Mr Vaizey said: "I'm backing the Manchester school. We've got Lipa and the Birmingham academy. Every school should be a Brit School but certainly there should be a Brit School in every major city." Sir George Martin, the former Beatles producer who helped to found the Croydon school, told The Independent: "Why not have a school in Newcastle and Yorkshire too? The Beatles didn't need a school but the institution helps young musicians learn how to work together and develop ideas in the studio." The Croydon school yesterday opened a new recording studio for students named after Sir George.

The Brit's biggest hits

* Lynden David Hall's 1997 Top 40 breakthrough was the first sign that the Brit School could produce hit musical talent.

* Ross Godfrey of 1990s dance act Morcheeba, and pop group Another Level, featuring former pupils Dane Bowers and Wayne Williams, followed in Hall's wake.

* Amy Winehouse briefly passed through the school's doors in 1998. But Adele is set to replace Winehouse as the school's most successful graduate.

* Katie Melua learnt her trade there. Kate Nash is a former student, as are new dance star Katy B and Leona Lewis.

* Rock alumni include The Kooks, The Feeling and Joel Pott of Athlete. Dance duo Rizzle Kicks are leading the next wave of pop hits.

* Many students study sound engineering, lighting and other backroom skills and go on to careers in musical theatre, production, record company talent-spotting and PR.

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