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Friary Diary - Issue 73 - March 2021

Welcome to Friary Diary issue 73 - a monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.


The highly successful second Kapitol Cory Band Online Contest took place the weekend before Easter. Friary’s programme was the penultimate of the 16 bands in the Championship Section, and was extremely well-received by Philip Harper, Musical Director of the Cory Band, and the three adjudicators. Themed around experiences over the past year, the set started with a clever Zoom-inspired (complete with disconnect!) With a Little Help from my Friends, before moving on to the new Callum Au arrangement of the classic Bridge over Troubled Water. This featured a stunning trumpet solo by Richard Straker, with sensitive accompaniment from the rest of the Band. ‘Notes that I could only dream of!’ enthused adjudicators Tom Hutchinson and Steve Stewart alike, Cory’s principal cornet and soprano cornet respectively: high praise indeed. With light now showing at the end of the Covid tunnel, the programme concluded with Chris King’s arrangement of I Wanna Dance with Somebody, which is fast becoming something of a Friary anthem.

Steve Stewart summed it up: ‘Overall a superb performance from start to finish, top notch stuff, great arrangements played brilliantly … visually so pleasing … an incredibly enjoyable 10 minutes.’ Both Friary and Amersham tied on points behind Whitburn, with Amersham just nudging Friary into third place on the tie-break judge’s mark, but it was nevertheless a thoroughly pleasing result, particularly with the Band’s basses taking the Best Bass section prize.

Chris King edited the sound content, and Richard Straker the video: special thanks and congratulations to them both for the hours of work which went into the first class production, and also to the Cory team who put the whole contest together – nearly 100 bands from across the globe took part across no fewer than seven sections. And congratulations to Whitburn and Amersham on their excellent and entertaining programmes, too. If you didn’t manage to catch the contest, it’s still available on YouTube by following this link. The introduction to Friary’s programme starts after 2 hours, 5 minutes and 30 seconds. Look out for the rather young player towards the lower right hand corner in With a Little Help …!


Love, recorded at the 2019 Brass in Concert contest and featuring soloist Isobel Dawes is due to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast show tomorrow - Tuesday 6th April. 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. It should also be available on the BBC Sounds app.


With the resumption of rehearsals, albeit virtual ones, I asked Band Chairman Nigel Stevens a few weeks ago for his thoughts from a player’s perspective. Sadly there wasn’t enough space in the previous issue to include everything he told me, so this month I’m pleased to be able to do him full justice; I’ve repeated the couple of paragraphs from last month’s issue.

This is what he told me: ‘“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” would be a good way to sum up how I felt about practising as the latest lockdowns delayed any probability of Friary being able to get back together at our much-loved band room at All Saints Woodham. My sadly neglected tenor horn sat forlornly in the corner of my study looking more like a not so shiny ornament than a musical instrument.

‘I have to say I was initially not inspired by our enthusiastic Musical Director’s plans to start playing again by using the virtual media of Zoom and YouTube. However, it was obvious this was a much-needed big push to get what are London’s champion group of brass musicians match-fit again for what is now looking like a much rosier outlook in terms of the possibility of Friary again taking the stage to represent London & Southern Counties at The Royal Albert Hall in the National Brass Band Finals, and The Sage Gateshead for the world's premier brass band entertainment contest Brass in Concert later in 2021.

‘The saving grace was that none of the rest of the band nor indeed our Musical Director would be able to hear my potentially not so dulcet tones and this gave me the courage to give it a go and try to get the seized-up valves on my tenor horn moving like greased lightning again.

‘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!’

Many thanks for sharing your thoughts, Nigel.


With no further updates since April, Friary remains 23rd in the world. For full ranking details, please go to



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