Rick Wakeman opens Great Yarmouth music school

Anthony CarrollMusic legend Rick Wakeman gave an emphatic 'Yes' to a �2m school of music, drama and dance at Great Yarmouth College yesterday.Anthony Carroll

Music legend Rick Wakeman gave an emphatic 'Yes' to a �2m school of music, drama and dance at Great Yarmouth College yesterday.

The keyboardist from the 1970s progressive rock band Yes admitted he was a bit jealous as he officially opened the state of the art building which has music and dance studios, rehearsals rooms and a 110 seat theatre.

Mr Wakeman was joined at the opening by fellow keyboard star Dave Greenslade who played in the bands Greenslade and Colosseum and with Phil Collins and John Lee Hooker.

As the 1970s music legends toured the School of Arts and Creative Technologies, which opened its doors to students in September, they compared it to the basic facilities they had when they were starting out in the world of music.

Mr Wakeman, from Scole, near Diss, said: 'When I was at sixth form we had a 78 record player and a piano. That was it. It is just amazing to see what is here today.

'We are both children of the 60s but we would not mind being a kid of 2010.'

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Mr Greenslade, who lives on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, said that he was impressed with the school and that it would be a good place to study music and other performing arts.

Both progressive rock keyboardists also enjoyed watching student band Eight play several rock songs in the school's auditorium.

The new school has replaced a century old building that used to house performing arts and music students in cold and cramped conditions.

Construction on the building started in November 2008.

College principal Robin Parkinson said: 'As they say this train has been a long time coming but finally it has arrived.'

It is hoped the school, also known as Studio 2 and 3, will be used to promote the performing arts across the borough of Yarmouth.

Mr Parkinson added: 'What we believe is that the school will reach out to the community.'

As well as seeing the school's spacious theatre Mr Wakeman and Mr Greenslade also saw a colourful exhibition of work by photography, fashion and textiles, art and media students.

The two stars were invited to officially open the school by music lecturer Paddy Shaw who knows them both.

Mr Shaw said: 'This school is going to open a lot of doors for students and the wider community.'