Friary do like to be beside the seaside!
After a long, wet journey up the M6, Friary Guildford Band shone in the Senior Trophy section at Blackpool’s Spring Festival at the weekend. Drawn last to play in a field of 20 bands from across the UK, Friary’s performance of Hector Berlioz’s Les Francs Juges, arranged for brass band by Frank Wright, was the adjudicators’ favourite on the day, and earned the band promotion to the Senior Cup section in next year’s event. This takes them one step further towards a long-held ambition: an appearance in the British Open. “It’s turning out to be another very successful year for the band,” acknowledged Contest Secretary Alex Stevens. “We’ve had two very tough test pieces to prepare in quick succession, for the Regional Championships and for the Spring Festival, but the whole band has really pulled together to bring us the right results, and we are looking forward to our return visit to the Royal Albert Hall in the autumn for the National Finals. But in the meantime there’s the scaba Entertainment Contest at Crawley to prepare for next month, so there’s no resting on our laurels!” And the inspirational contribution of their Musical Director, Chris King, was not forgotten by Alex in a post-contest interview for brass band website 4barsrest: “Chris is wonderful. He has done so much for the band in the last few years - from winning the First Section National title in 2010 to getting to the Albert Hall for a second successive year, and now winning the Senior Trophy. We all think he’s so musical - and pretty amazing!” Principal cornet, Richard Straker added: “After a number of early draw places, including the dreaded number one slot in the Regionals at Stevenage, to play at the very end of the day was a whole different experience for us, but we proved that we can play well wherever we’re drawn.” As at the end of March, Friary Guildford Band was 62nd in the World Rankings, and this latest success should lift them further towards the top 50