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Friary Diary - Issue 97 - March 2023

Welcome to Friary Diary issue 97 - a monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.


Friary is returning to London’s Royal Albert Hall for the National Championships of Great Britain in October! After last year’s ‘near and yet so far’ third place, the Band bounced back with a solid performance of Prof. Philip Wilby’s The Red Priest at Stevenage to earn second place and the much-coveted qualification for ‘the Nationals.’ There was also well-deserved recognition for Chris Pannell who won the award for the outstanding tenor horn player: many congratulations, Chris!

Drawn third to play of the twelve competing bands, Friary was pipped to the top spot by Zone One Brass, always a dark horse in the Regionals and no stranger to the Royal Albert Hall. Congratulations to them, and also to newly-promoted Sandhurst Silver who were delighted with their sixth placing. There was some family rivalry with Friary’s Lauren Straker (flugel) competing against her sister Madi (cornet) and mother Sue (tenor horn) who both play for Sandhurst. There will be further sibling rivalry at the Finals too where Lauren’s brother Rhys, also a flugel player, will be playing for GUS, winners of the Midlands Regional Championship!


After the thrill of the Regional Championship result there was some sadness with the departure of two Friary stalwarts, Mike Trumble (euphonium) and Chris Pannell (tenor horn).

Mike joined the Band back in 2012 and looked back on his time with great fondness: “I have enjoyed ten of the most musically fulfilled years of my life since joining the band in 2012. I've had the privilege of playing some of the finest band music ever written alongside fantastic players, who I can now call friends, in some of the most iconic venues.” But alongside his love

of brass bands, Mike is also passionate about playing and singing renaissance and baroque music, andhas decided the time has come to concentrate on those interests. He has even ordered a sackbut, a forerunner of the modern trombone!

Friary has also said goodbye to Chris Pannell, whose family and work commitments have led him to take the difficult decision to leave the Band. “I’d like to thank the Band for all the wonderful memories and friendship and wish them the best for the future.” Chris certainly went out on a high!

Band Chairman, David Wicks summed up the feelings of everyone at Friary: “Both Mike and Chris have been terrific bandsmen, great players who have made a significant contribution to Friary’s progress over the past years. We’ll miss them greatly, not only as players but also as friends, and we sincerely hope our paths will cross again at some point. We wish them all the very best for the future.”


Followingthe National Finals qualification success at Stevenage, Musical Director Chris King will be taking a well-earned break from the Band. As part of our preparation for major contests, we regularly seek input from guest conductors and therefore are pleased to have engaged with Nigel Taken, who will come in as guest Musical Director for our performance at the Grand Shieldcontest in Blackpool next month. Chris will return for the Whit Friday contests and lead the development of the band’s programme for Brass in Concert.


Friary is thrilled to have been invited back to Brass in Concert along with ten other leading bands for what is widely regarded as the world’s premier entertainment contest for brass bands. The full line-up was announced last week and can be seen here.

“It’s an immense honour and privilege to receive another invitation to perform alongside the world’s top bands,”acknowledged David Wicks. “We always enjoy devising our programme and work is already under way,” he added. The contest will take place as usual at The Sage, Gateshead on Saturday 18th November, compered by the inimitable Frank Renton. The draw for this year's contest will take place at the European Brass Band Championships in Malmo, Sweden, on the evening of Saturday 6th May. Those at the event will be able to attend the draw in-person and it will also be streamed live on the Wobplay platform.

Tickets for Brass in Concert will go on sale from The Sage at 10.00am on Wednesday 12th July.


Friary duo Kelly Harrison and Sam Noden will be leaving their instruments - tenor horn and euphonium - at home next Sunday and donning their running shoes for the London Marathon. Both Kelly and Sam have good reason to raise funds for SSAFA, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association. Coming from a military family, with frequent moves and upheavals, Kelly and her children have been supported by SSAFA in the past, and Sam is an RAF musician. “I went into the military because few jobs cover both my passions: fitness and music, explained Sam”. But I know veterans who have struggled on leaving service and SSAFA has helped them. And SSAFA helped Kelly when she needed support. I’m really pleased to raise funds for them,” he added.

Kelly, Head of Music at Belfairs Academy in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex commented: “I have been a runner for a while, but this is my first marathon. Sam and I are really enjoying training together and we go out to lovely places for long runs. It is great fun, and we support and motivate each other too.”

pic: SSAFA

SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity is a trusted source of practical, emotional, and financial support for serving personnel, veterans and their families in their time of need. In 2021 the trained teams of volunteers and employees helped more than 66,000 people, from Second World War veterans to those who have served in more recent conflicts, or currently serving (both regulars and reserves), and their families. You can support Sam and Kelly, and of course SSAFA, by making a pledge on their London Marathon fundraising page We wish them the very best of luck and are keeping our fingers crossed for suitable weather.


Following the round of Regional championships, an update on 8th April saw Friary rise two places in the rankings to 24th in the world. For full ranking details, please go to



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