t’s always better to travel in hope, so the saying goes, and this proved to be the case for Friary at this year’s British Open Spring Festival. Having been placed 6th in last year’s Grand Shield contest, Friary had high hopes of reaching the top two this year which would earn qualification to the British Open. That said, it was a tough ask, with a field of 20 bands all with the same objective.
The test piece was Thierry Deleruyelle’s Fraternity which commemorates the 110th anniversary of Europe’s worst mining disaster, at Courrières in Northern France when some 1,100 miners perished. Given that it was commissioned for the 2016 European Championships in Lille, not surprisingly it is challenging and none of the competing bands negotiated it completely unscathed.
Friary was drawn to play 11th, immediately after the lunchtime break, and the Band gave a good account of the piece. However, the two adjudicators varied in their individual assessments, with Steve Sykes being the more enthusiastic, summarising as ‘So much to enjoy & admire – bravo solo cornet!’ Garry Cutt, on the other hand, was more muted with ‘Lots to commend. Took a while to settle then some fine playing.’
Overall, the end result was a disappointing 9th place, with NASUWT Riverside and the co-operation band taking the tickets to the Open in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall in September. London & Southern Counties’ only other representative band, Redbridge, came 16th, avoiding relegation to the Senior Cup contest by a whisker. Friary’s ambition to reach the Open has to wait at least another year.
The Band would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge supporter Chris Allen’s donation to cover the cost of purchasing the test piece music: many thanks indeed, Chris. We greatly appreciate your kindness and generosity.