Welcome to Friary Diary issue 45 - a one page monthly round up of news about the Friary Guildford Brass Band.
Friary swept the board at the scaba Autumn Contest at The Hawth, Crawley on 30th September. With a set programme to comprise a test piece and hymn tune, it was an ideal opportunity to run out the Nationals test piece,
Dr Kenneth Downie’s Handel in the Band, along with the evergreen favourite, Deep Harmony, and the performance hit the spot with adjudicator Sarah Groarke-Booth. ‘Great choice of (test) piece. Much to admire today. A real sense of performance with lots of detail & intent. Soloists did a fine job. Very enjoyable.’ was her summary.
A total of twelve prizes were on offer, and in a mixed field of twelve bands from the Championship, First and Second Sections, Friary took every single one:
Overall placing; Best hymn tune; Best conductor (Chris King); Best instrumentalist (Martin Britt – soprano cornet); Best cornet or flugel (Richard Straker); Best tenor horn (Chris Pannell); Best baritone (Alex Sears); Best euphonium (Chris Straker); Best back row cornets; Best trombones; Best basses; Best percussion.
Commenting on the performance, Contest Secretary Alex Sears remarked: ‘This was a great opportunity to rehearse our Nationals test piece publicly, and I think we did a good job. It was just slightly embarrassing, in my other capacity as scaba Secretary, handing out the trophies on stage!’ ‘Well done all,’ she concluded.
Like the new apprentice sent off to the stores on a spurious errand, it was a long wait for Friary, drawn to play 18th out of the 20 top bands at the National Championships of Great Britain at The Royal Albert Hall on 6th October.
The contest started at 10.00 but it was gone 5.00 pm before Friary finally took to the stage, following the performances of the mighty Brighouse & Rastrick (2017 National Champions), Cory and Grimethorpe Colliery bands: quite a build up! But undaunted by these impressive predecessors, Friary tackled Dr Kenneth Downie’s Handel in the Band with aplomb, with brass website 4barsrest commentators particularly noting the musicality of the performance and Musical Director Chris King’s excellent interpretation. Sadly a few clipped notes detracted from the overall reading but only a very top few bands escaped almost blemish-free.
Friary’s last two National performances were both ranked 12th, so a placing of 11th this year was commendable, with nine of the ten bands placed above being in the top 13 worldwide. Band Chairman Nigel Stevens was delighted: “We can’t quibble with 11th - it’s an improvement on the last two years’ results and a top ten place is tantalisingly close. Of course, the errors are frustrating but it’s the same for most bands. Overall, a very good day at the office for us.” Contest Secretary
Alex Sears added: “Definitely very pleased with the placing bearing in mind the quality of the field above us.”
In the end it was Foden’s who took top spot, followed very closely by Cory and Brighouse & Rastrick. London & Southern Counties’ fellow representatives Thundersley, making their Nationals debut, came a creditable 17th, coincidentally the same as Friary on their debut back in 2013: congratulations to them.
The October World Rankings update saw Friary rise two places to 28th.