Like the new apprentice sent off to the stores on a spurious errand, it was a long wait for Friary, drawn to play 18th out of the 20 top bands at the National Championships of Great Britain at The Royal Albert Hall on Saturday.
The contest started at 10.00 but it was gone 5.00 pm before Friary finally took to the stage, following the performances of the mighty Brighouse & Rastrick (2017 National Champions), Cory and Grimethorpe Colliery bands: quite a build up! But undaunted by these impressive predecessors, Friary tackled Dr Kenneth Downie’s Handel in the Band with aplomb, with brass website 4barsrest commentators particularly noting the musicality of the performance and Musical Director Chris King’s excellent interpretation. Sadly a few clipped notes detracted from the overall reading but only the very top few bands escaped almost blemish-free.
Friary’s last two National performances were both ranked 12th, so a placing of 11th this year was commendable, with nine of the ten bands placed above being in the top 13 worldwide. Band Chairman Nigel Stevens was delighted: “We can’t quibble with 11th - it’s an improvement on the last two years’ results and a top ten place is tantalisingly close. Of course, the errors are frustrating but it’s the same for most bands. Overall, a very good day at the office for us.” Contest Secretary Alex Sears added: “Definitely very pleased with the placing bearing in mind the quality of the field above us.”
In the end it was Foden’s who took top spot, followed very closely by Cory and Brighouse & Rastrick. London & Southern Counties fellow representatives Thundersley, making their Nationals debut, came a creditable 17th, coincidentally the same as Friary on their debut back in 2013: congratulations to them.