pic: Alfie Hughes
Last Saturday saw Friary return to the Royal Albert Hall for the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain. It was the Band’s eighth successive appearance since 2013, a record matched by only seven other bands, the vast majority of which have pre-qualified on account of their previous year’s Finals placing.
The test piece was Bruce Broughton’s Heroes, written in 2019 as a tribute to the heroes of the Apollo 11 moon landing 50 years earlier. Technically challenging, it was nevertheless a very ‘listenable’ test piece. Drawn 12 out of the 19 bands competing, Friary put in an excellent performance including some superb totally unaccompanied solo playing – a daunting prospect knowing that there is absolutely no escape from the ears of the adjudicators and audience.
Inevitably, therefore, some disappointment ensued when the adjudicators – Dr Robert Childs, Dr Stephen Cobb and Rob Wiffen OBE - placed Friary 12th. It seemed that other bands’ interpretation of the middle section of the piece found more favour, but there was nevertheless praise for much of the performance and for the soloists.
‘We can’t deny being rather deflated after the encouraging live comments and marking,’ admitted Band Chairman Nigel Stevens, ‘but that's the way it goes in banding. And it’s also indicative of how far we’ve come as a band over the past few years that we’re no longer satisfied with 12th,’ he concluded.
This year’s champion band was Foden’s, with previous reigning champions Cory a whisker behind, and Tredegar taking the final podium slot. Congratulations to them all, and to our fellow London & Southern Counties representatives, Zone One Brass, who came 13th. For a full list of results, they are available here .