Welcome to Friary Diary issue 93 - a monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.
Having had a relatively quiet summer on the concert stage, Guy Fawkes’ Night saw Friary perform its second concert in a week. The Band returned to the Salvation Army church in Woking where a successful event was staged last year. Despite the conflicting draw of firework displays, a near capacity audience had clearly decided brass was better than bangers and gave the Band a welcome as warm as any bonfire.
The first half of the programme was similar to that played the previous Sunday at The Hawth, Crawley, including Malaguena, The Flight of the Wild Geese, Balkan Dance, and the euphonium duet Softly as I Leave You featuring Chris Straker and Sam Noden which rightly drew the greatest round of applause. Additions were Kenneth Downie’s In Perfect Peace, William Rimmer’s marchThe Cossack, and Goff Richards’ A Sweet Shepherdess with Eric Ball’s The Kingdom Triumphant bringing the first half to a suitably majestic conclusion.
The classic march Praise by Wilfred Heaton opened the second half, and then the Band’s programme for Brass in Concert had its first public run out. it was extremely well-received by the audience: sitting next to me was someone who had enjoyed Friary’s concert at The Hawth so much he travelled up from near Brighton to hear much of it again and certainly wasn’t disappointed. The obligatory encore I Wanna Dance with Somebody brought the evening to a close. I don’t think anyone there missed the fireworks!
to Stephen (baritone) and Emily Thorpe on the birth of their second son, Xander Henry (left) who arrived on 1st October, a brother for Amos.
… and also to Ben (Eb bass) and Bridget Miller on the arrival of baby Alec (right) last Tuesday. Ben is currently taking a break from Friary to concentrate on his new parental duties, but we hope to see him again before too long. We wish them all the very best for the future.
BRASS IN CONCERT:
Back in 2015 I was speaking to Kenny Crookston, then the editor of the British Bandsman magazine, about placing an advert for a Friary concert, when out of the blue he asked if I thought Friary would accept an invitation to play at Brass in Concert. I couldn’t quite believe it: at the time, apart from qualifying for the British Open (still an ambition!), it was probably the Band’s biggest aim. Seven years on and four trips later to The Sage, it would now be a major disappointment not to be invited back again. And it was encouraging to overhear a comment from an audience member in the row behind me, saying: “Friary, they’re always entertaining.”
This year’s set was themed around the life of George Gershwin, as recalled by his brother, lyricist Ira who was superbly portrayed by actor Joe Childs (above), sitting in an Art Deco-style New York bar (brilliantly designed and built by Richard Straker). The set opened with percussionist Sam Every’s A Gershwin Prelude, followed by his arrangement of Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies. Richard Straker then entranced the audience (and the adjudicators) with his solo Someone to Watch Over Me, before Ravel’s Rigaudon (Gershwin and Ravel shared mutual admiration for each other). Another new arrangement by Sam Every, of Richard Rodgers’ My Favourite Things slotted neatly into the narration, before Chris King’s Rhapsody in Gershwin brought the set to a rousing conclusion. What a tragedy that George Gershwin died aged only 38.
The performance was extremely well-received by the audience – I don’t think my neighbour behind me was at all disappointed – and by the adjudicators too. Their comments included: “A well-crafted programme, full of delights, a sense of cabaret and a riot of musical colour – well done.” “Fine soloists on show throughout the whole band with the Principal Cornet a real stand-out.” “Someone to Watch over Me was played with such style and poise - really classy. Bravo!” “Special mention too for terrific percussion, trombone and soprano cornet.” “Well thought out idea. The text part of the program worked very well.” “The narration is so expertly delivered.”
Friary was placed 8th out of the 12 bands competing, narrowly missing out on 7th due to the breakdown of the total marks. Bearing in mind that five out of the first six were top ten bands in the world rankings, and the sixth one was in the top 20, that was a very satisfying result. Sadly for Friary this year, but deservedly so, the Audience Entertainment Award went to the Cory Band whose Dr Who-themed set was outstanding. Brighouse & Rastrick took top spot, with Tredegar and Cory completing the podium places. For the full contest results and report, please see 4barsrest.
The Sage - by day and by night!
As you’ll see below, we have two concerts coming up over the next 10 days. Tickets for the Hogs Back Brewery event are currently sold out, though it may be worth phoning the Brewery to see if there are any returns. Tickets (£10) for the concert at Teddington Baptist Church TW11 8PF are available from Eventbrite or from the church office tel: (020) 8977 8000. We hope you can join us. Please be aware that there is extremely limited parking at the church itself.
We also look forward to playing seasonal music at The Meadows shopping centre from 11.00am till 3.00pm the following Saturday, and returning as usual to the Hog’s Back Brewery on Christmas Eve, raising funds for the Band and the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Trust on both occasions.
There have been no further updates since October so the Band remains at 29th in the world. For full ranking details, please go to https://www.4barsrest.com/rankings/