AS the curtain was raised, the deafening screams of hundreds of school pupils filled the Kings Theatre.
So who was it that had brought the house down? One Direction? JLS? No, it was the Royal Marines.
Around 2,000 youngsters packed the Southsea theatre for free concerts by the corps yesterday.
And it didn’t take long for the Royal Marines School of Music to get its excitable audience clapping, jumping about and joining in with a whirlwind hour of modern and traditional songs.
Playing to such a young crowd was a novel experience for many of the military musicians on stage.
‘When we first came in the curtain was down and we could hear them screaming,’ said Annie Richardson, 23, who plays clarinet in the band.
‘We didn’t know what to expect, but it was an incredible atmosphere. It was really good fun.’
The concerts were organised by Portsmouth Music Hub, a city council initiative aimed at inspiring youngsters.
Percussionist and teacher Patrick Nicholls, from Portsmouth Music Service, led the way in teaching the pupils clapping rhythms.
He said: ‘It’s an amazing experience for us because for many of the children it’s the first time they get to see a live band. Quite possibly, this memory will stick with them most of their lives and hopefully encourage them to pick up an instrument in the future.’
One highlight was when the band broke into the James Bond theme – timely with the new 007 film Skyfall about to be released.
Wide-eyed Solent Junior School pupil Sam Tiller, 10, of Drayton, said: ‘I loved it. I found it quite interesting and really enjoyed the James Bond music.’
Kaite Manning, 10, of Farlington, added: ‘I thought it was quite inspiring to see how much work they had put in to it. It was great.’
Band leader Major James Burcham hopes the concerts will inspire a future generation of musicians.
He said: ‘It’s a great opportunity for the Royal Marines School of Music to work in the community – particularly with young people – and really enthuse them and open their eyes to the wonderful world of music and military music.’
Percussionist Joe Kemp, 19, said: ‘This is completely different to anything I’ve done before. It’s awesome.’