Friary Guildford made its debut in the British Open Spring Festival Grand Shield contest at Blackpool yesterday, full of excitement and hope that a decent performance would secure a first-ever trip for the Band to Birmingham’s Symphony Hall for the British Open in September. After winning the Senior Trophy in 2014, and taking third place in the Senior Cup last year to secure promotion to the Grand Shield, a top two placing did not seem out of the question despite a particularly strong field which included no fewer than eight other Royal Albert Hall finalists out of the 20 contenders.
The test piece, Edward Gregson’s Of Distant Memories (Music in an Olden Style) appeared to suit Friary, and the performance found favour with the audience in the Winter Gardens’ Opera House and the commentators from British Bandsman and 4barsrest.com alike, the latter predicting 5th place for the Band. Sadly, however, the adjudicators thought otherwise, placing Friary 18th and with it, relegation back to the Senior Cup for 2017.
‘Despite what we (and others) thought was a very musical account of the piece, the adjudicators felt there were too many clips which detracted from the overall performance,’ acknowledged Band Chairman Nigel Stevens. ‘It’s a hugely disappointing result after a lot of hard work, but that’s the way it goes sometimes: we have to take the rough with the smooth, and look forward, not back.’ ‘We start our summer concert season in fine style when we share the stage with the fantastic Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band next month: that’s something we could not have imagined a couple of years ago, another first for Friary,’ he concluded.