Welcome to Friary Diary issue 105 - a monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.
Friary Brass Band returned to Guildford over the Remembrance weekend for the town’s Remembrance ceremonies. The Last Post and Reveille were sounded by principal cornet Richard Straker from the Guildhall balcony on Armistice Day, with a repeat performance on Sunday at the service in Castle Grounds, after the Band led the civic procession down the High Street, watched by hundreds of spectators. A wreath was laid on behalf of the Band.
photo: Kelly Harrison
Principal trombone and euphonium players Neil Wharton and Sam Noden, both musicians in the Royal Air Force Regiment Band, had a rather larger audience as they took part in the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.
photo: Jane Stewart
Across in East Sussex, Friary trombone player Ian Stewart was heavily involved in Remembrance Sunday’s commemorations. Ian is also Musical Director of Lewes, Glynde and Beddingham Brass Band (LGB). The morning saw him lead LGB through the streets of Ringmer, and through Lewes in the afternoon, in the presence of Lord-Lieutenant Andrew Blackman and High Sheriff Richard Bickersteth. He has held the post of MD at LGB for nearly 25 years.
Remembrance holds special significance for Ian, an ex-serviceman himself. After school, he spent 22 years in the Army Music Service, first as a bandsman in the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Green Jackets. In 1985, he completed the army Bandmaster’s course and was appointed Bandmaster to the Queen’s Own Hussars. Ian’s final appointment was as School Bandmaster at Kneller Hall, the home of the British Army School of Music.
‘It’s our most important engagement of the year,’ explained Friary Chairman David Wicks. ‘And with several members of the armed forces in the Band, it’s particularly relevant,’ he added.
BRASS IN CONCERT:
Our trip to Gateshead earlier this month for the Brass in Concert contest turned out, quite appropriately, to be rather similar to the weather: really bright and sunny at times but with some disappointing rain which dampened the overall experience. Friary’s performance of ‘And Now the Shipping Forecast’ certainly found favour with the audience, judging by the storm of applause, and with at least one of the judges but an overall position of 10th was not as good as we’d hoped to receive. That said, nine of the ten bands we were up against are the top 14 worldwide.
The shipping forecast theme (the radio forecast celebrates its centenary in 2024) was the concept of former Musical Director Chris King who returned to deliver the amusing narrative, scripted by bass player Ben Miller. The set comprised five brand new commissions - Viking, Cromarty, Thames, Tyne and Rockall - from composers Paul Saggers, Simon Dobson, Callum Au, Andy Wareham and Sam Every respectively. Each piece was very different: the ominous atmosphere of approaching Viking raiders; a tranquil harbour scene; a clever medley of nursery rhymes; varaiations on a Northern folk song; and a jazzy finale. Cromarty featured Lauren Straker playing a hauntingly beautiful flugel solo to superb effect.
Highly effective lighting and an engaging graphic presentation, devised by Richard Straker, completed the backdrop to the music. Brass in Concert is an entertainment contest, generally regarded as the world’s leading such event, so we were particularly encouraged to receive full marks and first place from one of the two adjudicators judging entertainment and presentation, one of only two bands to obtain a perfect score for that aspect.
To get a flavour of the theme, our promotional taster clip can be viewed on our Facebook page and the whole performance, together with the rest of the contest and a wealth of other band concerts, contests and recordings are available by subscribing to World of Brass’ wobplay at www.wobplay.com
Congratulations to the current no.1 band in the world, Foden’s, whose tale of Aladdin took first place, and to Norwegian band Eikanger who were runners-up with their set based on the life of Marie Curie (and said to have taken inspiration from our George Gershwin themed performance last year). Flowers completed the podium line-up with a lively Alice in Wonderland set.
Despite the result, we were thrilled to have been invited to this prestigious event and with the appreciation we received from the audience, if not from all the adjudicators. And lastly we are deeply grateful to all those involved in creating and delivering the programme, and to the various deps who filled the unavoidably vacant seats on the day.
At the time of issue, Friary remains 29th in the world, although an update is due. For full ranking details, please go to https://www.4barsrest.com/rankings/