Welcome to Friary Diary issue 85 - a monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.
BEST OF BROADWAY CONCERT:
It was billed as ‘The Best of Broadway’ and the audience certainly had their money’s worth of show tunes in an epic concert at a packed GLive on 26th March, with Friary accompanying the Guildford based Vivace Chorus under their conductor Jeremy Backhouse.
Friary opened the concert appropriately with ‘Strike up the Band’, before MD Chris King handed the baton to Jeremy for medleys from ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Carousel’. It was then time to showcase the Band again. Richard Straker provided the musical fireworks with a dazzling cornet solo of ‘Defying Gravity’ followed by Chris Straker’s mellow euphonium sounds, every bit as rich and velvety as Willy Wonka’s chocolate, in ‘Pure Imagination’. The first half concluded with a joint selection from the much-loved ‘Les Misérables’.
After the interval, a joint medley from ‘Oklahoma’ saw the second half off to a rip-roaring start. Lauren Straker on flugelhorn then entranced the audience with a wonderfully evocative performance of the late Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Send in the Clowns’ before the Band completely changed the tempo again with the high energy number ‘Comedy Tonight’. A further change of mood was provided by both ensembles with a selection of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best-loved songs: no musicals-themed concert would be complete without them. Whilst the choir took a breather, Friary played ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ – now something of an anthem for the Band – before both ensembles moved to the finale, featuring favourites from ‘West Side Story’.
It was a tour-de-force for both groups, but especially for the Friary players. Vivace Musical Director Jeremy Backhouse was full of praise. Thanking Friary MD Chris King, he wrote: ‘Just a quick email to thank you and the band for their amazing contribution to the success of the concert on Saturday. They were really flying and everyone I have spoken to since the show has been full of praise and admiration for their playing. I am so grateful to you and them for joining us in what turned out to be a really fantastic night! Their stamina was immense and I just loved sharing the platform with them - they are a joy to work with …’ Jeremy is very keen to arrange another joint concert, though it may well be a couple of years away.
SEBASTIAN'S ACTION TRUST:
Friary became involved with this Crowthorne-based charity last year when I noticed a request in our local paper for music videos for their ‘Christmas in July’ party. The Band had just completed the first ‘lockdown video’ and this went down well at the event. The Trust kindly invited me to a reception for all their supporters last month. The Charity provides support for seriously ill and disabled children and their families, and I was immensely impressed by the quality and breadth of care they give. This also extends to bereavement counselling for as long as it is needed.
For further information, please visit www.sebastiansactiontrust.org
BRITISH OPEN SPRING FESTIVAL:
Preparations are in the final stages for this coming weekend’s major contest at Blackpool’s Winter Garden, where Friary joins 19 other bands competing in the Grand Shield. The top two bands will qualify for the British Open … whilst the bottom four will drop to the Senior Cup next year. Peter Graham’s ‘Dynasty’ is the test piece. More details in the next issue.
FRIARY 'FIRST AT EUROPEANS':
No, Friary hasn’t been elevated to compete in the European Brass Band Championships … yet, hence the inverted commas! But as revealed in Nigel Stevens’ interview with 4barsrest editor Iwan Fox on 10th March https://www.4barsrest.com/news/53670/interview-with-nigel-stevens Friary was asked to record the set work for the European Brass Band Championships, ‘Saints Triumphant’, by the composer, Prof Philip Wilby to ensure it sounded as he intended before being released to the competing bands. Nigel is part of the Brass Bands England committee charged with organising the whole European Brass Band Festival which takes place at Symphony Hall, Birmingham from 28th April to 1st May. For further details of all the events making up this fantastic festival of brass, please go to https://www.bbe.org.uk/ebbf but to manage expectations, please be aware that some of them are already sold out.
Rankings have been updated in April following the regional championships, and not altogether surprisingly, Friary has been overtaken - but has only slipped three places to 22nd in the world.
For full ranking details, please go to https://www.4barsrest.com/rankings/