YOUNG Royal Marines musicians played to a sold-out Portsmouth Guildhall yesterday.
Seventy-five trainees from the Royal Marines School of Music played a rousing three-hour concert in front of 2,000 people, including the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth and the navy’s Second Sea Lord, to celebrate this year’s crop of talented graduates.
Major Jason Burcham, 43, who is the school’s director of music training, said: ‘This is a major event for the whole band. It’s a culmination of a year’s hard work for the Royal Marines School of Music.
‘It’s a fantastic way to celebrate our graduates and for the whole school to perform in front of friends, families and members of the public.’
This year, 15 trainees have made the grade to join one of the famous Royal Marines bands. The band service packs venues all over the world, and recently took centre stage at the Diamond Jubilee pageant at Windsor Castle.
There is fierce competition for places at the music school, which is based at HMS Nelson, Portsmouth.
Recruits have to master new instruments, complete basic commando training in Lympstone, Devon, and take a five-hour exam to pass the tough three-year course.
Maj Burcham said: ‘They work so hard and we expect an awful lot from them.
‘I’m so proud of what they have achieved.’
After the concert ended at 5pm, the audience spilled out into Guildhall Square to watch the band perform a ceremonial beating retreat.
The Royal Marines Band Service has an enduring popularity going back many decades, and interest has spiked after the televised jubilee concerts.
Fan Pam Rose, 71, of Metheun Road, Southsea, said: ‘They play a wonderful variety of music. They are all so talented.’
Her neighbour Valerie Beresford, 66, added: ‘They are the best band around.’