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Friary improve on 2nd trip to National Finals

‘A gutsy performance’ was how brass band website 4barsrest described it on the day, and indeed it was when Friary Guildford Band once again represented London & Southern Counties at last Saturday’s National Championship Finals at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Competing against 19 of the UK’s top bands, Friary – 61st in the world rankings (courtesy of - more than held their own to be placed 16th, leaving three top 20 ranked bands trailing behind them. The test piece, The Legend of King Arthur, a tour de force by Peter Meechan, featured two lengthy and exposed solos, for euphonium and flugel. Heroine of the day was undoubtedly flugel player, Lauren Straker who had been rushed into hospital only five days earlier with appendicitis, and underwent emergency surgery. ‘I have to say I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to manage it, but I was utterly determined to be there and play that solo,’ admitted Lauren, ‘And I’m so delighted – and relieved – that it went well.’ In fact, her performance drew favourable comment from the adjudicators and other bandsmen, who were totally unaware of the week’s earlier events. Band Chairman, Nigel Stevens, summed up the day: ‘All of our soloists did us proud, but Lauren’s performance inspired us all, and we were thrilled to experience the magic atmosphere of the Albert Hall once again. Our placing was one up on last year, against an acknowledged tougher field, so we’re heading in the right direction.’ ‘Being drawn last but one meant it was a long wait for us to play, but it was also an honour to precede the world famous Black Dyke Band, who rounded off the day with a performance which saw them lift the Nationals trophy for a record-breaking 23rd time.’

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