NATIONAL BRASS BAND CHAMPIONSHIPS OF GREAT BRITAIN:For the majority of the Friary players, the Royal Albert Hall has become a familiar venue with five visits over the past four years. No fewer than 23 of those who played in Friary's debut at The National Finals in 2013 were on stage last Saturday, a record which we suspect many of the other competing bands would find hard to match.The Band was delighted with last year's 12th placing, and knew it would take some beating this time around. Howard Snell's work,Gallery - along similar lines to Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition- is more tuneful than some recent National Finals' test pieces, but no less challenging. And who better to be amongst the trio of judges than the composer himself, alongside Luc Vertommen and Philip McCann. Drawn to play 17th, Friary had a long wait until 4.40 to take to the stage, following Tredegar who had just laid down a stunning performance which eventually earned 2nd place. There was also the knowledge that the world famous Black Dyke Band was to play immediately afterwards.Friary's best performance of the piece was probably in the band room last week. Inevitable nerves and the long wait took their toll in a few places on the day. However, as far as the adjudicators were concerned it was worth 12th place,with comments including ‘; .. a most musical approach by the conductor ...’; ‘Very good performance - lots of energy and attention to detail in the score. Bravo’; ‘… so sensitively performed by players and conductor.’Not only that, there were some notable top 20 bands left trailing in Friary's wake. Congratulations are due to our fellow London and Southern Counties representatives, the rejuvenated Redbridge Band who were awarded eighth place. Next year's L&SC Regional Championships will be interesting! And finally, congratulations to our former trombone player, Izzy Daws, now playing with Fairey who came fourth. Brighouse & Rastrick, the final band to play, took the title, with the remaining results: 2. Tredegar; 3. Cory; 4. Fairey;5. Foden’s; 6. Whitburn; 7. Black Dyke; 8. Redbridge; 9. City of Bradford; 10. Milnrow; 11. Woodfalls; 12. Friary Guildford;13. Virtuosi GUS; 14. Reg Vardy; 15. Hammonds Saltaire; 16. NASUWT Riverside; 17. Thoresby Colliery; 18. Tongwynlais Temperance; 19. Filton Concert Brass; 20. Co-operative Funeralcare.That was the last of our contest performances for 2017, which has been a highly successful year for the Band. We now look forward to our winter concert season before we commence preparations for the Butlins Mineworkers Contest in January.