‘It’s wonderful to be playing in public again!’ Those were the watchwords on everyone’s lips as Friary made a welcome return to the tranquil – apart from the occasional siren – setting of College Garden, Westminster Abbey yesterday as part of the Abbey’s programme of lunchtime concerts. It was the Band’s first engagement since early February 2020, yet the sound was as rich and full as ever, and the soloists in fine form.
The varied programme was enthusiastically received by an audience not noticeably smaller than pre-Covid, and included the world premiere of Callum Au’s new arrangement of ‘What a Wonderful World’, expertly delivered by principal cornet Richard Straker. ‘They certainly sound as good as ever,’ commented a member of the audience afterwards.
‘We can’t deny being slightly apprehensive before the concert, bearing in mind the length of time since our last public engagement,’ acknowledged Band Chairman Nigel Stevens, ‘but we were delighted with the way it went, and the audience certainly appreciated having us back in this beautiful setting, overlooked by Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster. We’re now looking forward to our evening Proms concert at Godalming Bandstand on Saturday 4th September,’ he concluded.