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Education Secretary opens new performing arts centre

04 May 2012

Michael Gove officially opened the new £11m performing arts centre for King Edward's School and King Edward VI High School for Girls.

The occasion was celebrated on Friday April 27th and Saturday April 28th with two special concerts featuring the School's Symphony Orchestra and Choral Society playing Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade and Orff's Carmina Burana.

The £11m Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Performing Arts Centre, which has been partly funded by a substantial donation from former pupil Sir Paul Ruddock, provides a 400-seater auditorium, 120-seater drama studio, state-of-the art dance and rehearsal rooms, and music facilities.

Both schools have produced a number of alumni who have gone on to be successful in the performing arts including actors Lucy Davis, Lindsay Duncan and ‘Goodie' Bill Oddie, musician Mr Hudson, and ‘Lord of the Dance' star John Carey.

There are currently two girls and three boys in the National Youth Orchestra including Roberto Ruisi, who is thought to be the youngest ever leader of the orchestra. Michael Gove on officially opening the building, said: "The schools make a greater contribution to the National Youth Orchestra than any other schools in the country.

"It is a tribute to the tradition of excellence that this Foundation has stood for, for hundreds of years, but in particular it's a tribute to the parents who've nurtured talents and to the teachers whom do such a superb job to make sure that every child with a talent achieves it to its fullest extent."

Mr Gove also talked in his speech about the dedication of the schools in ensuring "that talented youngsters from whatever background have a chance to be taught in a way which allows them to fulfil all the genius with which they were born", the importance philanthropy plays in accessibility, and in particular Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock's commitment to philanthropy and the arts.

Sir Paul Ruddock, Chairman of the Victoria and Albert Museum whom received a knighthood in the New Year Honour List 2012 for services to the arts and philanthropy, said: "King Edward's was a great springboard for me in terms of education but it also opened the world of culture and history which have been my passions ever since.

"My hope is that the boys and girls who use this concert hall and the dance and drama studios will see their passions ignited and set them on a path that fulfils them as much as mine fulfils me."

Sarah Evans, Principal of King Edward VI High School for Girls, said: "We are very grateful to Sir Paul Ruddock for his remarkable generosity toward this project. This wonderful new building will transform the way performing arts are taught within the schools."

The concerts will be followed by a series of events, including orchestral concerts, dance workshops, drama performances, and themed reunions for past pupils, as part of a special opening festival during the summer term.

The Performing Arts Centre is part of a £25 million building programme that King Edward's School is undertaking, which will also include a new Modern Language department, improved science facilities and a major development of the school's indoor sports facilities.

For further information about the Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Performing Arts Centre visit:

To view pictures from the opening concert click here.