Last year it was a hat-trick, so to continue the cricketing analogy, this year it’s a four and a six!
Earlier this month, Friary Guildford Band took the London & Southern Counties Regional title for the fourth consecutive year, and with it, a place at the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain for the sixth year running, to be held at London’s Royal Albert Hall on 6th October. And the Band also took the awards for the Best Trombone Section (Merin Rhyd, Ian Stewart and Adam Gregory) as well as individual awards for Best Horn (Chris Pannell) and Best Cornet (Richard Straker).
Drawn to play 5th out of the 11 bands competing, there was an anxious wait while the expected leading contenders played later. Band Chairman Nigel Stevens summed up the tension: ‘We felt we had played well, but we knew there would be fierce competition this year with a number of bands very keen to relieve us of the title. With only the top four places announced, in reverse order,
and then the individual awards presented between the second- and first-placed bands, the atmosphere before our name was finally announced was palpable.’ ‘I’m immensely proud of how Friary has grown under the direction of Chris King since we won the First Section national title in 2010, and we are all looking forward to another trip to the Royal Albert Hall in the autumn,’ he concluded.
Leading brass website 4barsrest, who covered the contest live, were impressed: ‘Friary Guildford produced the type of commanding performance that is fast becoming a trademark stamp of their contest armoury to confidently retain their grip on the London & Southern Counties Regional title. Their fourth consecutive success in Stevenage was a class apart from well beaten rivals; MD Chris King bringing a level of technical detail to a strongly delineated musical rendition of ‘Odyssey’ that sent them to the Albert Hall for the sixth consecutive year and reinforced a welded hold on the regional trophy that shows no sign of weakening any time soon.’
Joining Friary Guildford to represent London & Southern Counties at the RAH will be runners-up Thundersley, who will be making their debut in the National Finals. There will be the added interest of some sibling rivalry on the day as Thundersley’s and Friary’s flugel players are brother and sister, Rhys Cave and Lauren Straker!