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Friary Diary - Issue 58 - November 2019

Welcome to Friary Diary issue 58 - a one page monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.


Friary received a very warm welcome at the end of October at St Mary the Virgin Church in Worplesdon for another charity concert in favour of the British Heart Foundation and the Parish. Playing to a near capacity audience, the Band was conducted in Chris King’s absence on holiday by Paul Fisher, a professional trombonist, teacher and Musical Director of Amersham Band. Paul quickly engaged the audience with his ready wit, and the varied programme, including favourites such as Death or Glory(featured in the film Brassed Off) was very well-received, as was the rousing finale of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. A number of solos were featured, but as at College Garden Westminster, it was percussionist Will Rowling who brought the house down with his magnificent xylophone solo Robin Harry. Such is the popularity of the event, there is already a tentative return engagement planned for next year.


As usual, the Band led Guildford’s Remembrance Sunday parade down the High Street to Castle Grounds, where principal cornet Richard Straker played The Last Post and Reveilleto mark the start and finish of the two minutes’ silence and the Band played Nimrodand hymns. A wreath was laid on behalf of the Band. On Armistice Day, Simon Persin reprised The Last Postand Reveilleon the Guildhall balcony.


Friary was honoured to take part in the prestigious Brass in Concert contest last weekend, held in the impressive venue of The Sage, Gateshead. The contest is widely regarded as the world’s leading brass band entertainment competition, with bands from abroad invited to join the best in Great Britain. The Band chose to reprise its Friary Fairytale, which won the Most Entertaining Band award at Butlins in January, slightly adapted to include a new arrangement by MD Chris King of Vivaldi’s Autumn. Isobel Daws’ stunning rendition of Thoughts of Love received the biggest soloist’s ovation of the day, as did the Band at the end of the performance. ‘Probably not as good technically as Cory, but more entertaining!’ and ‘That certainly got the contest back on track!’ were two of the audience comments I overheard as we left the hall for the lunch break.

In the end, Cory deservedly took the overall top spot, along with several of the section and individual prizes with their Jungle Book based performance, completing a grand slam of all four major contest titles this year. However it was Isobel Daws who took the Best Trombone award. Overall Friary was placed 7th, having tied 6thon points with Schoonhoven, the reigning Dutch champion band who then took precedence on the breakdown of the marks. But aside from the adjudicators’ decisions, there was also an Audience Entertainment award, voted for by the audience. This reflected the performance’s reception in the hall, with Friary delighted to take the prize.

For the full report and results, please see A download of the whole contest, together with interviews is available at for £12.95 until 24thNovember.


Eagle-eyed readers of this month’s Brass Band World magazine may have spotted a Friary player in the centrefold picture of the Cory Band and New York Staff Band (Salvation Army), taken at their joint concert in New York on 2nd November. Principal euphonium Chris Straker was invited to play for Cory on their recent USA East Coast week’s tour, filling the second baritone seat which he occupied at Cory before returning from Wales to his native Hampshire in 2010 and joining Friary. ‘It was a huge honour to play for Cory again,’ said Chris, ‘And the highlight was undoubtedly the joint concert with the NYSB,’ he added. Chris also toured both Sweden and the USA East Coast with Cory in 2016.


In the November update, Friary has risen three places to 21st in the world, its highest ever ranking! For full ranking details, please go to

Please visit our calendar page here to view our forthcoming events

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