Friary was honoured to take part in the prestigious Brass in Concert contest last weekend, held in the impressive venue of The Sage, Gateshead. The contest is widely regarded as the world’s leading brass band entertainment competition, with bands from abroad invited to join the best in Great Britain. Friary was previously invited back in 2015, and whilst then the overall placing of 11th was disappointing, at least the Band did not return empty-handed, with percussionist Elliot Mountford winning the Youngest Player award!
This year the Band chose to reprise its ‘Friary Fairytale’, entitled The Tale of Princess Isobel and her Enchanted Trombone, which won the Most Entertaining Band award at Butlins in January, slightly adapted to include a new arrangement by MD Chris King of Vivaldi’s Autumn. Isobel Daws’ stunning rendition of Thoughts of Love received the biggest soloist’s ovation of the day, as did the Band at the end of the performance. ‘Probably not as good technically as Cory, but more entertaining!’ and ‘That certainly got the contest back on track!’ were two of the audience comments I overheard as we left the hall for the lunch break.
In the end, Cory deservedly took the overall top spot, along with several of the section and individual prizes with their Jungle Book based performance, completing a grand slam of all four major contest titles this year. However, aside from the adjudicators’ decisions, there was also an Audience Entertainment award, voted for by the audience, and reflecting the reception from the audience after we played, it was Friary which took the prize. Again, reflecting the ovation she received, it was Isobel Daws who took the Best Trombone award. Overall Friary was placed 7th, having tied 6th on points with Schoonhoven, the reigning Dutch champion band who then took precedence on the breakdown of the marks. Overall it was a highly successful event for the band, not only in terms of the experience of playing to a large audience in a superb venue, but also in earning some useful prize money which is always welcomed.