HUNDREDS of young Hampshire musicians packed into the Royal Albert Hall for a special St George’s Day event.

Performing with their schools or as part of Hampshire Music Service’s county and area youth ensembles, more than 1,700 gave the concert of a lifetime at the famous venue.

In what was the largest event ever organised by the county council’s music service, with almost 200 schools taking part, pupils aged from seven to 19 performed an extensive programme that included wind, string and brass ensembles, orchestras, massed choirs, dancers and groups that specialise in samba, jazz and Japanese Taiko drumming.

Special guests were also on hand including Band of the Scots Guards, together with actors Sarah Parish as narrator, and Christian Brassington as compere.

Wildern School had 115 pupils performing in the concert.

Harriet Simmons, director of learning for creative and media subjects at the school, said: “Hampshire at the Hall gave our students first-hand experience of what it would be like to live and work as part of a professional performance company. Their confidence has soared sky high through the many rehearsals and I am exceptionally proud of everyone.”

Poppy, age 12, from Wildern School, was one of 80 dancers taking part in the ‘My World’ performance.

She said: “When we first went into the arena I was a bit overwhelmed. It was really exciting and when I was performing I couldn’t stop looking up and around at all the people watching. My mum and dad said it was a really good performance.”

St Mary’s Junior School in Old Basing had 33 pupils performing at the concert. Headteacher Caroline Welch said: “How many children, or in fact adults, can say that they have performed at the Royal Albert Hall? Our children were enthralled. I loved watching their faces as they entered the auditorium for the first time – true awe and wonder. It was a wonderful celebration of the strength and depth of music in Hampshire.”

Tom Welsh-Smythe, who is a pupil in Year 5 at St Mary’s, sang with his class mates as part of the massed choir.

Tom said: “It was really exciting to sing at the Royal Albert Hall. I’ve never been there before and it was a lifetime opportunity! We sang several songs. I was especially excited to sing ‘My World’ because it was the world premiere performance. The whole thing was really exciting. I really enjoy singing, especially jazzy, happy songs, and I am going to carry on singing in the choir.”

Hampshire Music Service co-ordinates bands, ensembles, orchestras and choirs for children and young people, all over Hampshire. The service organises some 400 performances every year, which can range from small gatherings of musicians and their families, to large events in public venues such as Winchester Cathedral, The Anvil and even The Royal Albert Hall. The service also supports schools to provide quality music tuition and affordable instrument hire to pupils.

Groups of young musicians from Hampshire’s ensembles and choirs have previously performed individual pieces at The Royal Albert Hall, as part of the Music for Youth proms, but this is the first time Hampshire Music Service’s young performers have given an entire concert at the prestigious venue.