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From an organ to a new theatre: Elton John rides to Royal Academy rescue

The Royal Academy of Music will soon have a brand-new, £12 million theatre, thanks to alumnus and ''Billy Elliot'' composer Elton John

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Elton John
© Dan Wooller

If only all alumni were as generous as Elton John. Fifty years after he studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where he arrived as a nervous 11-year-old, the composer remains one of the biggest supporters of his alma mater.

Back in 2004, international press gathered at the Royal Academy for the launch of the stage version of Billy Elliot The Musical, and John explained the similarities between the story of a young working-class boy studying at the Royal Ballet and his own experience at the Royal Academy.

This past week, John announced that he would be staging a series of concerts to help raise the £12 million needed to convert the Academy's small theatre into a modern professional performance space.

John has already helped raise £1.2 million for a new organ, which was unveiled last week, and personally donated millions more to fund musical scholarships for more than 60 students.