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Friary Diary - Issue 103 - September 2023

Welcome to Friary Diary issue 103 - a monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.


photos: Sarah Stevens

After a relatively quiet summer for the Band, we geared up for a busy autumn with our 40th anniversary concert at the end of the month. A near-capacity audience at Woking’s Trinity Methodist Church, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Woking, was treated to a musical feast, ranging from classics by Bach and Borodin to top hits by Lionel Ritchie and Whitney Houston.

Guest soloist, Brighouse & Rastrick principal cornet Tom Smith produced a stunning performance of Carnival of Venice, and was then joined by Lauren Straker on flugel for a moving rendition of Piazzolla’s Oblivion. After the interval, Tom showed again his versatility with a convincing performance of Leonard Ballantine’s Don’t Doubt Him Now, followed by a dazzling duet of Peter Graham’s Quicksilver with Friary principal Richard Straker.

Opening the second half with real pizzazz, the Lionel Ritchie favourite All Night Long featured the exciting sight and sound of four mellophoniums, guaranteed to get everyone’s feet tapping. Other programme highlights included William Himes’ Procession to Covenant and Darrol Barry’s A Salford Sinfonietta, as well as a couple of new commissions to be included in Friary’s Brass in Concert set.

Previous MD Chris King returned to conduct three items, including the Friary anthem, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, and was presented with a glass plaque recognising his contribution towards the Band’s significant progress during his tenure. A similar presentation was made to the evening’s compere, former Friary euphonium player and a long-standing member of the management team, Mike Trumble.

Rounding off the celebration, Ray Farr’s exhilarating arrangement of the Bach Toccata in D minor was a fitting encore, raising the roof much to the audience’s delight.

Band Chairman David Wicks commented: ‘This was an evening to savour, a perfect way to mark the Band’s 40th anniversary in style. We are deeply grateful to Tom Smith for being our guest soloist, and to Chris King for returning to conduct part of the programme, alongside our current MD Nigel Taken.’ ‘We were also honoured with the presence of the Mayor and Mayoress of Woking: I understand this was their first experience of a brass band concert and I think we made lasting impression,’ he concluded.


The Band is now busily putting the finishing touches to our performance ready for our return to the National Finals at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Saturday week. The test piece is Prof. Edward Gregson’s Of Men and Mountains. More in next month’s issue.


Friary has added to its percussion section with a new signing, Martin Davies.

Martin started playing percussion in 2009 through the Surrey Arts Tuning Up project but in his own words, ‘I didn't get stuck into brass banding until 2017 when I was asked to help Godalming Band at a local contest by Will Rowling’ (former Friary percussionist). That gave Martin the brass band bug and he remained with Godalming for the next two years. When he moved to Durham for university in 2019, Martin joined NASUWT Riverside, as well as Durham University Brass Band where he would remain with both ensembles for the next four years. In that time, Durham won UniBrass 2021, the first in-person band contest since March 2020, and he served as DUBB president 2022-2023. After finishing his degree, Martin bade farewell to Riverside and Durham and returned south for work.

Commenting on his appointment, Martin said: ‘I am delighted to join Friary Brass Band in their 40th year and am looking forward to a wide range of concerts and appearances at the National Finals and Brass in Concert. I must also give my thanks to NASUWT Riverside for four wonderful years of playing and crazy memories,’ he concluded.

Friary Chairman Dave Wicks added: ‘ We’re so pleased to have Martin with us. He’s a great player and brings with him plenty of experience from his time with Riverside.’


There was a further update on 11th September: Friary remains 27th in the world and is 17th in the UK. For full ranking details, please go to



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