Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts co-founder and Lead Patron Paul McCartney, on a break from his Out There tour in the U.S, was featured speaker at the school's graduation ceremony July 31 in Liverpool. McCartney handed out certificates to around 280 graduating students.
He also bestowed Companion of LIPA titles to nine honorees, including lyricist Don Black, producer Giles Martin, Island Records president Darcus Beese, actor Sam West, theatre director Adrian Jackson, National Theatre director Nick Starr, theatre designer Colin Richmond, lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe and dancer Briony Albert. BBC radio presenter Janice Long and U.S. songwriter Suzahn Fiering were also named Honored Friends of LIPA.
“I just love to come here and see this amount of talent, this amount of hopefulness, the spirit, about to be launched into the world. Just go out there, be wonderful and be yourself,” Sir Paul said in his speech at the ceremony.
SongLink International Editor and Publisher David Stark also presented graduates Edwin Pope, songwriter, lead singer and sax player with Mutant Vinyl, and Joe Smithson, lead singer and songwriter for Collectors Club, with the SongLink Prizes for songwriting. "As always it was a very hard decision to choose two winners from around 20 really strong third year contenders on the songwriting course, but Edwin and Joe are both fantastic writers fronting terrific bands who I have every confidence will be going places with their music,” said Stark.
Also in attendance were Sir Paul's brother, Mike McCartney and Billy Ocean. The ceremony was hosted by LIPA Principal Mark Featherstone-Witty. Stark was made a Companion of LIPA by McCartney in 2006, and is also drummer with the tribute group The Trembling Wilburys. The group will be playing at the 27th annual Beatles Day event in Mons, Belgium on October 11th.