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Friary Diary - Issue 56 - September 2019

Welcome to Friary Diary issue 56 - a one page monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.


Friary returned to The Hawth, Crawley on the last Sunday of the month for the scaba (Southern Counties Amateur Bands’ Association) Autumn Contest, defending the title won at the event last year. It was an opportunity to run out the National Finals’ test piece, Titan’s Progress, as well as hymn tune Angelus; the adjudicator was Tom Hutchinson, principal cornet of the Cory Band. Tom summed up the performance as: ‘Beautiful band sound, so balanced. Superb dynamics and great shapes. Overall a superb performance. Worthy winners. Bravo!’ In the event it was almost a clean sweep for Friary, who won the overall event, as well as the best hymn tune. There were also individual awards for best cornet and best instrumentalist, both won by Richard Straker, best euphonium Chris Straker and best conductor Chris King. Friary also took the best trombone section and best bass section awards to round off a very satisfactory afternoon.

Band Chairman Nigel Stevens was pleased with the overall result. The scaba Autumn Contest is always a good opportunity to run through the National Finals’ test piece,’ he commented, ‘and our main focus now is to put the finishing touches to our performance over the next few rehearsals, ready for our big day at the Royal Albert Hall.’ ‘Our aim is for a top ten finish,’ he concluded.


An otherwise fairly light month in terms of news provides the opportunity to feature another of the Band members, and the honour goes to the Band’s Chairman, Nigel Stevens, who plays First Horn. Nigel's passion for brass banding was born at the age of five when he blew his first blow in the Young Peoples Band of the Salvation Army at Hastings Citadel. He subsequently had many happy years at Worthing Citadel with whom he toured much of the UK and parts of Europe as part of their evangelical work. His secular playing began with Horsham Borough Band, where he later took the Principal Cornet seat before further enjoyable years at Uckfield Concert Brass and Chichester City Band.

However Nigel's home for nearly 20 years of his playing career has been Friary. Rejoining the Band in 2003, he sat in the Solo Horn chair from 2005 to 2016 and has held many committee positions, being the Chairman since 2011. Having retired from a lengthy and highly successful career with EDF Energy, where he was Managing Director, Business Improvement and Technology. Nigel has also recently joined the board of Brass in Concert and is also supporting Brass Band England in their preparations for the European Brass Band Championships which are scheduled to take place in England in 2024.

‘It’s been great fun playing with Friary over the past 20 years or so, and during that time the Band has come a very long way: whilst it was always an ambition for Friary to be ranked in the top 30 worldwide, that seemed out of reach even 10 years ago,’ said Nigel. ‘Not only that, to be the Chairman has been an immense honour and the Band is indeed very fortunate to have amongst its highly committed players a hard-working management team who provide a wealth of experience to help us move further forward,’ he added.

Whilst Nigel has many fond memories of his banding years, he singles out his first steps onto the Royal Albert Hall stage in 2013 at the National Finals as his most proud and treasured.


In the September update, Friary rose two places to 25th in the World Rankings. In the UK only, the Band is ranked 16th; in England alone it is ranked 12th. For full ranking details, please go to

Please visit our calendar page here to view our forthcoming events

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