Welcome to Friary Diary issue 72 - a monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.
STOP PRESS: Friary competes in the Kapitol Cory Contest on YouTube this Sunday (28th March) and features on BBC Radio 3’s breakfast programme on Tuesday 6th April. Please read on for more details.
You know what they say about buses … well, it seems that Friary news is a bit like that. I thought it would be another player feature to fill this month’s issue, but at last we have some news – and good news at that – to report. First of all, rehearsals have resumed, albeit virtual ones.
In an endeavour to get back to some sense of normality, the band’s Musical Director, Chris King, has been running online rehearsals during February via YouTube. The communication is one-way, apart from using the chat function in YouTube, so the band can hear Chris, in crystal clear audio, but Chris cannot hear the members of the band as they play – Chris says it sounds better this way!
For each band practice, there is a warm-up session followed by around 10 mins of music theory, and then the band settle back into playing through some classic and lighter band repertoire. It is effectively a brass band video / radio cast, and Chris thinks that Carlsberg’s slogan revision sums it all up perfectly – ‘probably not the best radio in the world’
So how do the rehearsals work from a player perspective? This is what Band Chairman and tenor horn player Nigel Stevens told me: ‘After initial and very quickly resolved technical issues, I began to juggle my earphones, laptop, tenor horn, mute, music stand and music to play along to some of the finest band recordings that our Musical Director turned super star brass band DJ presented us with. With the world’s best players resonating in my ears, I began to really enjoy the experience. OK it wasn’t like being with Friary in the church hall, but it was as good as a pandemic brass playing experience could possibly have been. It jolted me to memories of happier times pre Covid and helped me remember why playing in a brass band and particularly the Friary Brass Band has always given me such enormous pleasure and pride. It's been a few weeks of these virtual rehearsals now and I’m glad to say my lip is now stronger, my tones are now almost dulcet and my resolve to get back in the band room and be part of the Friary team is renewed. Thank you DJ Chris King!’
By popular request it's also been decided to keep one Wednesday a month as a virtual social get-together, which can involve Band members’ families too.
KAPITOL CORY CONTEST:
This month has seen the second online contest being run by the Cory Band and Kapitol Promotions, with the Championship Section taking place this coming Sunday. Bands have submitted a short recorded programme which will be played and adjudicated on the Cory Band YouTube channel on Sunday afternoon and evening. There’s a teaser video about the contest, including some Friary players, on the Cory FaceBook page, and performances for the other sections which took place earlier this month are also on their YouTube channel.
As well as bands from across the UK, there are entries from further afield such as France and Denmark. Friary has been drawn as the penultimate band, so we expect the performance to be seen in the early evening. I’m sworn to secrecy about the programme content but it does include pieces not previously performed by Friary!
BBC RADIO 3:
We were delighted to learn that BBC Radio 3 are running a feature commencing on Monday 22nd March which puts the spotlight on brass bands. The BBC explained: ‘Lockdown has severely curtailed musicians from the brass band community, so enlisting the help of brass band aficionado Paul Hindmarsh, we here on Weekday Breakfast will be airing the best recordings, concert performances and private tapes made by bands in recent years, including some made during lockdown. Paul was the Musical Director of the Besses o’ th’ Barn brass band in the 1990s and continues to work with bands on a freelance basis. He is Artistic Director of the Royal PTO Northern College of Music’s Festival of Brass, Director of Concerts for the Manchester Midday Concerts Society (Bridgewater Hall) and Series Editor (Brass and Wind Bands) for Faber Music Ltd. In 2005 he was awarded the Iles Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians for his services to the brass band movement.’
Paul has selected Friary’s performance of Thoughts of Love, recorded at the 2019 Brass in Concert contest. This featured soloist Isobel Dawes and earned her the Don Lusher Trombone Award and no doubt contributed towards the Audience Entertainment Prize for Friary. Radio 3 are planning to include this on their Tuesday 6th April Breakfast show. The recording will be broadcast sometime between 7am and 9am. Twitter users can tweet about its inclusion in the show using the handles @bbcradio3 @petroctrelawny.
This month I’m very pleased to feature solo cornet player Hannah Richards, who kindly agreed to be virtually interviewed.
Do you come from a musical family - if so, what did they play?
My Dad played in the local brass band which is how I started. He mainly played horn but occasionally percussion too. My brother also played for a bit but gave up as he much preferred football.
When did you first start playing a brass instrument, and what was it?
I started playing cornet when I was 4 in the Eccleston junior band.
Have you continued playing since then?
Yes I have continued but had a few years of just trumpet when I was at Uni as there were so many orchestras, musicals and operas to get involved in.
What bands have you played with regularly?
I started in Eccleston band then moved to Rivington and Adlington when I was 13. After a few years there I moved to Freckleton which I only left when I moved to University. In Edinburgh I started at Bo’ness then after a little break from banding I joined Newtongrange.
What do you particularly like about playing with Friary?
The people and the friendship, as well as the chance to play exciting music with great musicians at amazing places.
Do you play or have you played any other instruments apart from the cornet?
I play the piano - mainly as part of my job (music teacher).
What's your most memorable banding moment?
There are so many great moments - playing at the Albert Hall for the first time and every time since, the cheers at the end of Butlins entertainment sets and playing at Brass in Concert both times... I think my current best memory was the roar from the audience at the end of Izzy’s solo at Brass in Concert, it was pretty overwhelming and I struggled to play the start of the next piece because I was smiling so much. (This is the piece being played on BBC Radio 3 – let’s hope the audience reaction is included in the recording too!)
What would you most like to achieve in the banding world?
To play at the Open - the last big contest I need to tick off my list.
Apart from brass, what other genres of music do you enjoy?
I love cheesy pop!
If you were cast away on a desert island, what would be your top three music pieces you'd like to listen to and why?
Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band, or any song by them, as they are uplifting happy songs that I listened to all the way around Canada a few years ago and they bring back lots of happy memories.
Don’t look back in Anger by Oasis – a favourite song from when I was younger and obviously being Northern I am team Oasis over Blur!
I want to Dance with Somebody by Whitney - this was always a favourite song but now has lots of happy banding memories attached to it too!
With no further updates since April, Friary remains 23rd in the world. For full ranking details, please go to https://www.4barsrest.com/rankings/