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Friary Diary - Issue 112 - June 2024

Welcome to Friary Diary issue 112 - a monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.


Despite the competing attraction of Guilfest with its headliner Sam Ryder, there was a near capacity audience for Friary’s joint concert with the Surrey Brass ensemble at Christ Church, Guildford on 29th June. 


After jointly opening the programme with the fanfare from Janacek’s Sinfonietta, Friary played their set ranging from Berlioz to Lionel Ritchie and including Thames and Rockall from their innovative 2023 Brass in Concert programme ‘And Now the Shipping Forecast’.  Peter Meechan’s moving Song of Hope, featuring Friary’s Richard Straker and Hannah Richards and Michael Chapple from Surrey Brass, ended the first half.

Surrey Brass - modelled on the acclaimed Philip Jones Brass Ensemble - took the floor for the second half, again with a varied programme including Gabrielli’s antiphonal Canzon Duodecimi Toni, Joplin’s The Easy Winners and conductor Jonathan Spencer’s arrangement of Butterworth’s The Banks of Green Willow:  an appropriate choice of composer for Armed Forces Day, given Butterworth was awarded the Military Cross but was killed on the Somme before receiving it.


The joint concert brought together Friary’s Richard, Lauren and Chris Straker with Richard and Chris’ brother Michael, trombonist with Surrey Brass, and the ‘Straker quartet’ was featured in Sondheim’s Company.  Joint items of Bach’s Toccata in D minor, Lecuona’s Malagueña and Fillmore’s Rolling Thunder, played at breakneck speed, brought the evening to a rousing conclusion.


Friary chairman David Wicks commented: ‘This concert was postponed from last year due to lack of a suitable venue, but It was certainly well worth waiting for!  The talent of Surrey Brass was evident and the contrasting programmes together with the various joint items made for a marvellous celebration of brass music,’ he added.


photo: Guildford Borough Council

Friary’s Simon Persin once again sounded a fanfare on the Guildhall balcony  at the flag-raising ceremony to mark the start of Armed Forces Week in Guildford.  ‘It’s a huge honour to be part of this ceremony,’ said Simon.  ‘We have several members of the Armed Forces in the Band, so acknowledging their service to our country is particularly relevant to all of us.’



Friary will be opening the doors of its (relatively) new rehearsal venue, Chertsey Hall to the public for a summer concert on Wednesday 31st July at 8.00pm.  Entry is FREE to all so do come and join us if you can!


And talking of concerts, tickets for our British Bandsman series concert  at Reading Town Hall on Saturday 19th October at 2.00pm are now on sale.  We are delighted to be part of this prestigious concert programme so please support us.  Please visit to book your tickets (£17.50;  under 18s £6).


Friary’s Annual General Meeting, held at Chertsey Hall on 17th June, saw a number of changes in the Band’s management team.  Long-serving member Jane Challiss stepped down as Treasurer, with Chris Straker taking over this vital function.  Chris Attwood rejoins the team, and Stephen Thorpe fills the vacant Minute Secretary role.  Other members of the team, who are also the Band’s trustees, were re-elected.  A full list of trustees is available on Friary’s Charity Commission profile at


Musical Director Nigel Taken stated how delighted he was with the Band’s progress over the past year.  The performance at the Grand Shield in May was spectacularly good, he said, and the well-deserved result all the more creditable off a number one draw.  He believes Friary has limitless potential and is aiming for a top six result at the National Finals in October …


Chairman David Wicks thanked everyone in the Band for their continuing commitment and dedication, as well as the hard work of the management team.  In particular he acknowledged the outstanding contribution made by the outgoing treasurer, Jane Challiss, and presented her with a card and small gift.  Summarising, he commented: ‘This has been a pivotal year for Friary and with a strong dedicated team we now look forward to the next with a real prospect of breaking through to achieve success and recognition at the national level.  Most importantly of all, let’s continue to enjoy this amazing journey,’ he concluded.


As at 1st June, in the table, Friary stands at 23rd in the world.  There is still no update since April from



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