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Friary Diary - Issue 75 - May 2021

Welcome to Friary Diary issue 75 - a monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.



Good news! Rehearsals have recommenced, albeit once a week and, due to social distancing requirements, back at the Band’s previous home at Chobham Club for the time being as the hall at All Saints, Woodham isn’t quite large enough.Attendance is up to individual players feeling comfortable with the arrangements, but all Covid-secure measures are being taken, in line with guidance from Brass Bands England.The recent postponing of the final stage of the roadmap is of course disappointing but understandable, and we are grateful that we have been able to make the progress achieved.“It’s a bit of a strange feeling playing together again in person, yet not as we were before,” admitted Band Chairman Nigel Stevens, “But it’s definitely good to be back,” he concluded.


As mentioned in last month’s issue, Friary had reluctantly decided not to enter the Foden’s Band Online Whit Friday Championships, but that’s not to say there was no participation from within the Band at all. Friary’s principal horn player, Chris Pannell was part of Bedroom Brass, a band formed by Chris’ brother Tim, which was only just pipped to the top slot by world no. 1 band Cory. Chris explains:

“The group started through lock-down. My brother and I both did solo videos to keep us entertained in the first lock-down, and then we did a full band one with the two of us From there we collected a few players who were interested and asked to get involved and we've made several videos with 4-5 people on each playing all the parts in a brass band. When the Whit Friday competition came up, the group decided to branch out and ask people that we knew to get involved so that we had a full band of players. My brother, Tim, is the driving force behind it all. He contacted the players, made the backing track and edited the audio and video. He had a lot of late nights editing it, even with the fantastic players we had involved. It was a privilege to have played with such an illustrious group. Around half the people involved are 'artists' for instrument manufacturers, and we had the principal cornets for 5 of the top 10 bands in the world rankings, with players from the top 3.

In terms of the result, it's great for all of Tim's work to be recognised, and that we came so close to winning and beating the world's best band. Obviously, ours was a better performance, but isn't that half the fun of banding?!”

Adjudicator Michael Fowles told brass website 4 BarsRest there was just 'the narrowest of margins' between the top two bands. Congratulations to Bedroom Brass and in particular to Tim and Chris Pannell. To view the performance, visit


Although Friary is a brass band, there are also players who don’t play brass instruments – the percussion players. I thought it was high time I featured one of them, so this month I’m very pleased to feature our long-serving percussionist Chris Atwood who kindly agreed to be virtually interviewed. Many thanks, Chris!

Do you come from a musical family - if so, what did they play?

Yes, my parents met in their church choir. We grew up in a family where music practice just happened. My brother, sister and I attended a secondary school where music was led by an inspirational Salvation Army tuba player - we were bound to become bandspeople!

When did you first start playing?

Not quite sure how I ended up playing percussion, but I was aged 8 (ish!) ...... and, apart from a few years when I moved to London, have played ever since (much to the pleasure of every neighbour I’ve ever had!).

If that wasn’t a baritone, when did you switch?

After a few months of playing cornet, it turned out there were far too many cornet players in the training band and not enough baritone players. The conductor duly thrust a baritone in my direction, and it seems to have stuck!

What bands have you played for regularly?

Northamptonshire Youth Brass Band, Royal Doulton Band, City of Stoke Brass, Epsom & Ewell, and Friary since 2004. Over the years I’ve also dep’d for many bands in the Midlands, North West and South East.

What do you particularly like about playing with Friary?

The consistency of the Friary family and the generosity and support everyone gives to one another. I’ve found it particularly inspirational learning from some truly excellent percussionists we’ve had in the bandroom - people I’m proud to call friends.

Do you play or have you played any other instruments apart from Percussion?

Many ... I was once asked to leave a B&Q store as they didn’t appreciate me playing cans of paint. The old deep computer monitors (anyone else remember those?!) give an excellent bass sound. Mrs A has evicted me from her kitchen on many occasions for playing pans and jars. I also have a reputation in local garages for scavenging in their parts bins for car parts we need for the latest test piece ..... few people can claim to have played a brake drum in the Royal Albert Hall! Back to your question: if you can bang it and it has any resonance, I’ve played it! Why would anyone want to play any of those blowy instruments?!

What’s your most memorable banding moment?

So many with Friary. Where to start ... Winning the First Section National Finals in Harrogate 2010; our first Areas win; Areas 2020 (the one that got away); 2019 Nationals; playing at Ali’s and Hannah’s (Richards) wedding; seeing our performance in the Cory online contest; 24th May 2021 first rehearsal after lockdown; .... but Brass in Concert 2019 has to be the one: what an inspirational programme, audience and a standing ovation from the adjudicators just isn’t meant to happen!!!

What would you most like to achieve in the banding world?

At the moment, doing a concert with an audience would be an achievement. After that, winning the Grand Shield to get a ticket to the Open. Then finding the secret formula to be able to play tuned percussion ...... I think the Grand Shield/Open might be more realistic, though.

Are you involved with any other types of music? If only I had the time!

Apart from brass, what other genres of music do you enjoy?

Anything involving good percussion and rhythms. Having spent time in The Gambia many years ago playing djembe, I think there’s a lot to be learned from West African rhythms. And catchy tunes from West End musicals.

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?

  • Year of the Dragon - just the middle movement, on loop!

  • Lion King soundtrack - but can I have it on YouTube please, as percussion is so central to the whole performance.

  • Phil Collins - just about anything, as the way percussion dominates the stage is excellent.


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



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