TALENTED musicians from the Royal Navy are bracing themselves to take centre stage at a major festival in the Royal Albert Hall this weekend, performing in front of Prince Harry.
About 150 men and women from the Massed Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines will be leading the show at the Mountbatten Festival of Music.
The team have spent 36 hours rehearsing at Fareham’s Ferneham Hall since Monday and are today making their final preparations at the globally-renowned London venue ahead of tomorrow’s opening night.
Principal director of music, Lieutenant Colonel Jon Ridley is the man behind the massed band’s latest show – his first at the Albert Hall since taking the top job last April.
He said: ‘This has taken almost a year of work and planning to get to where we are today.
‘We started rehearsing two-and-a-half days ago and the excitement levels have just been building every day.
‘You never get tired of walking out to the stage at the Royal Albert Hall. It’s the most exhilarating feeling you can have.’
The two-hour show is being performed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in front of a crowd of about 15,000 people.
It will feature an eclectic range of music, from rousing marching drums to pop songs. It will be topped off with a grand finale marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Singer Musician Samantha McIndoe, 32, has been part of the band service for 13 years and has previously performed at the festival. This year she is singing a solo. She said: ‘It’s an adrenaline rush that takes a while to come down from.
‘To be able to do a solo at the Royal Albert Hall, well, it really doesn’t get much better than that. It’s the biggest venue I’ve ever performed at.’
Musician Owen Muir, 26, is nearing the end of his training at the Royal Marines School of Music, in Portsmouth. He will be playing a range of percussion instruments at the festival, ranging from the xylophone to the humble triangle.
‘I’m feeling excited and trepidatious,’ he said. ‘But I am really looking forward to it. It’s a massive stage and it’s fantastic that we’re able to perform on it.’
The show will be streamed live on the Royal Marines’s YouTube account and The Bands of HM Royal Marines (Official) Facebook page at 7.25pm on Saturday.