Welcome to Friary Diary issue 78 - a monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.
STOP PRESS: FRIARY PLACED 12th AT NATIONAL FINALS - READ ON FOR MORE DETAILS
Friary returned to the idyllic riverside setting of Phillips Memorial Park in Godalming for Proms in the Park at the beginning of September. The superb bandstand sadly was out of bounds this year due to social distancing requirements but that did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the Band and the large audience of all ages on a warm late summer’s evening. The programme started appropriately with Gregson’s Prelude to an Occasion and included part of the running order played at Westminster before moving to traditional Last Night fare: Fantasia on British Sea Songs, Jerusalem and Pomp and Circumstance No. 1. The audience responded with a frenzy of flag waving, and an encore - perhaps more reminiscent of New Year’s Day in Vienna - the Radetsky March brought the concert to a rousing conclusion.
Band Chairman Nigel Stevens summed up the event: ‘We’re so fortunate to have been able to restart our concert programme in two such beautiful venues, and even the weather was kind to us. The sight of those flags waving and a group of youngsters jumping and clapping to the Radetsky March was something to behold. It’s wonderful to be back!’
pic: Alfie Hughes
With two concerts under the Band’s belt, it was time to focus on the National Finals. Last Saturday saw Friary return to the Royal Albert Hall for the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain. It was the Band’s eighth successive appearance since 2013, a record matched by only seven other bands, the vast majority of which have pre-qualified on account of their previous year’s Finals placing.
The test piece was Bruce Broughton’s Heroes, written in 2019 as a tribute to the heroes of the Apollo 11 moon landing 50 years earlier. Technically challenging, it was nevertheless a very ‘listenable’ test piece. Drawn 12 out of the 19 bands competing, Friary put in an excellent performance including some superb totally unaccompanied solo playing – a daunting prospect knowing that there is absolutely no escape from the ears of the adjudicators and audience.
The performance found considerable favour with euphonium virtuoso, conductor and adjudicator Professor Steven Mead, who was giving an informal marking based across 10 criteria for brass website 4barsrest after each band played. ‘A thoroughly excellent performance’ was how he summarised it, a view shared by Chris Thomas, who was also providing a written commentary for 4barsrest. In their prediction, Friary was placed 7th or possibly higher.
Inevitably, therefore, some disappointment ensued when the adjudicators – Dr Robert Childs, Dr Stephen Cobb and Rob Wiffen OBE - placed Friary 12th. It seemed that other bands’ interpretation of the middle section of the piece found more favour, but there was nevertheless praise for much of the performance and for the soloists.
‘We can’t deny being rather deflated after the encouraging live comments and marking,’ admitted Band Chairman Nigel Stevens, ‘but that's the way it goes in banding. And it’s also indicative of how far we’ve come as a band over the past few years that we’re no longer satisfied with 12th,’ he concluded.
This year’s champion band was Foden’s, with previous reigning champions Cory a whisker behind, and Tredegar taking the final podium slot. Congratulations to them all, and to our fellow London & Southern Counties representatives, Zone One Brass, who came 13th.
Our nextengagement is a charity concert – A Night at the West End - in aid of the British Heart Foundation and the Church at 7.30pm on Saturday 16th October at St Alban’s Church, Oak Hill, Wood Street Village, Guildford GU3 3ES. PLEASE NOTE THE VENUE IS NOT AS STATED IN THE PREVIOUS FRIARY DIARY. Tickets are £10 (children under 16 free) and are available from the Church Office on 01483 233091 or via email@example.com
With no further updates since April, Friary remains 23rd in the world. For full ranking details, please go to https://www.4barsrest.com/rankings/