College nurtures future talent

MANCHESTER has produced some of the most exciting music of the past 20 years - from New Order to the Smiths, the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays - so perhaps it's not surprising that its City College has such an impressive pop pedigree.

Adrian Armstrong is single-minded in his mission to make music a realistic career option. But this is no one man band.

As well as Phil Ellis (see right), the college has Martin Moscrop, once of industrial funk band A Certain Ratio, on the staff and has recruited Simon Aldridge, former A amp; R man for Columbia Records, who signed Gabrielle and All Saints to the team.

The college has its own record label - Raw Fish - which has already put out several volumes of very accomplished music - all produced in-house. An offshoot showcasing New Deal artistes nationally is also planned.

On the fourth floor of City College's Arden campus, music technology students mix with graphic designers and computer whizzkids, swapping ideas and cross-fertilising each other's work.

It is a conscious attempt to create the kind of close-knit, networked community that sparked the "Madchester" musical revolution of the late Eighties. There's a buzz about the place.

North of he city centre, at its Abraham Moss campus, there's a state-of-the-art recording studio, which is rented out to bands (Oasis recorded early demos there) and gives students vital hands-on experience of operating professional equipment.

Some former students have gone on to work with bands including Simply Red and the Chemical Brothers.

In another room, BTec performance technology students listen intently, trying to pick out the different production values of recordings by Vaughan Williams and Primal Scream.

Nearby, nervous guitarists practise their arpeggios before the examiner calls them in.

"We want to bridge the gap between education and the industry," says Adrian.

In January, he was as good as his word, giving a group of students first-hand experience of the music business when they travelled to the MIDEM trade fair in Cannes - the leading record industry get-together.

He says: "I don't like the term 'fame school' and we are not talking about creating a factory for pop stars. We don't want to create lots of Liam Gallagher clones. But we need to put training for the music industry on a more professional basis and we are providing the infrastructure."

Harvey McGavin

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