Friary Guildford Band were crowned Regional Champions of London & Southern Counties at Stevenage yesterday, earning them qualification for the third successive year for the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, to be held at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 10th October. After two years as runners up, they overcame all other 11 bands to take the much-coveted regional title.
The challenging test piece ‘The Torchbearer, composed by Peter Graham as a tribute to Eric Ball, himself a legendary brass composer of many a test piece, was described by adjudicators Alan Morrison and Stan Lippeatt as full of traps for the unwary, and with nowhere to hide for the soloists. Morrison, former conductor of Brighouse & Rastrick Band as well as being a noted cornet player, had adjudicated in three of the eight Regional Championships, and commented that the standard in Stevenage compared favourably to the other areas where he had officiated.
Friary’s Contest Secretary, Alex Stevens, was thrilled with the result: ‘The Torchbearer’ was undoubtedly another of our greatest challenges yet, but we managed to pull it off, thanks to an immense amount of hard work and dedication across the whole band. ‘We know exactly what to expect at the Albert Hall … a fantastic day in the company of the giants of the brass band world such as Black Dyke, Brighouse & Rastrick, Grimethorpe, and Cory who are ranked no. 1 in the world!
It’s an experience we’re all looking forward to very much once again,’ she concluded.
This latest success leaves Friary the most consistent performers at the London & Southern Counties Regional Championships over the past four years, with a third, two seconds and now a first place to celebrate.