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Friary Diary - Issue 29 - June 2017



An enthusiastic audience at Holy Trinity Church was treated to a feast of French music performed by the Occam Singers and Friary Guildford Band. A wide range was featured, ranging from the stirring La Bataille (‘The Battle’ – from a time when Anglo/French relations were less than cordial) to start the concert, to the ever-popular tranquil Flower Duet from Delibes’ Lakmé, played on cornet by Richard Straker and Hannah Mitchell. The second half of the concert was devoted to a new arrangement of Fauré’s Requiem. The concert was conceived by euphonium player Mike Trumble, also a member of the Occam Singers, who put together the programme, and arranged the music for the Band. ‘This was a project I’d long since wanted to fulfil: I’m delighted with the way it went, and that the audience appeared to appreciate it too,’ said Mike. ‘Hopefully both groups have found some new followers, and we look forward to another opportunity to work together.’


Several readers have suggested a feature on individuals within the Band, so to launch this, it seemed only right and proper to begin with the man at the front, Friary’s Musical Director, Chris King. Chris started his interest in music while playing the cornet at school and with various brass bands in Lincolnshire. Despite being the most unlikely boy to join the Army at school, his musical career began at the Army Junior School of Music, Pirbright, where he trained as a Junior Musician between 1987 and 1989, winning the Musician of the Year award on graduation. He then attended the one-year Pupil’s course at Kneller Hall, Twickenham, winning the prestigious Frank Wright Silver Medal in the annual cornet soloist competition.

In 1990, Chris was posted to the Royal Artillery Band at Woolwich where he served for nine years playing cornet in the band, and trumpet and viola in the orchestra. His time at Woolwich included active service in the first Gulf War, before leaving the band in 1998 to become an instructor at Kneller Hall and then attending the three-year Bandmaster’s Course there. Completing that in 2002 and armed with a first-class honours Degree in Music, Chris was subsequently posted to the Minden Band of the Queen’s Division as Bandmaster, where he toured Pakistan twice, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, and all the other great tourist destinations!

Chris was posted back to Kneller Hall in 2006 as Training Development Team Warrant Officer and this is when he began his relationship with the Friary Guildford Brass Band as Musical Director. During Chris’ tenure, the Band has had repeated contest success including victory at the 2010 First Section National Championships and the 2014 Senior Trophy, L&SC champions in 2015, 2016 & 2017, as well as qualification for the National Brass Band Championships in the Royal Albert Hall on five successive years. Along with a BBC Radio 2 Listen to the Band programme entirely devoted to the Band’s current CD, this has lifted Friary’s profile in the brass band sphere. Chris has also worked as conductor in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, and is now an accredited brass band adjudicator.

Chris finished his time in the Army as the Bandmaster of the Band of the Grenadier Guards in London, and now works as Bursar at a Preparatory School in Twickenham, where he and his wife and two daughters live. Summing up, Chris explained: ‘I’ve been Musical Director of the Friary Guildford Band for over 10 years now, and if this was a premiership football club, it would be quite some record! It remains a great privilege to direct the Band, and I am particularly delighted with our achievements over the last 5 or 6 years. We certainly work very hard together and I am excited about the future of this rising star of the band world.’

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