Welcome to Friary Diary issue 65 - a one page monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.
WHAT'S FRIARY BEEN UP TO?:
The Band continues to have an activity every Wednesday in lieu of one of the weekly rehearsals, to keep the Friary family together. As well as quizzes, we’ve had a Taskmaster session (based on the TV show) which was great fun too. And there’s a third video under production … watch this space!
ARMED FORCES DAY, GUILDFORD:
As usual, Friary supplied the bugler at Guildford’s marking of Armed Forces Day, with cornet player Simon Persin doing the honours at a socially distanced and much reduced ceremony in Castle Grounds. Thank you and well played, Simon.
FOCUS ON … CORNET PLAYER, SIMON PERSIN:
Given Simon’s involvement in Armed Forces Day, it seemed appropriate to feature him this month. I ‘interviewed’ Simon by email and this is what I gleaned about him. Many thanks, Simon.
Do you come from a musical family - if so, what did they play? I didn't think I did as none of my parents can "formally" play instruments. However, my Dad has always loved music and has a very varied musical taste. He can make a tune on guitars and keyboards but cannot read music at all! I have since learned that my maternal great grandfather was an accomplished musician in South Wales and played nearly everything, including brass (euph and bass).
When did you first start playing a brass instrument, and what was it? I started playing the trumpet at age 6 with lessons at school following an assembly where the teacher played a garden hose (a trick I have since repeated and enhanced with a toilet with Friary!). I also then joined the Tadley Concert Brass training band on Saturday mornings to make it a little more fun than just a formal structured "education-based" lesson. It was this that kept me interested and opened the social aspect of music. Without that, I'm sure I would have given up playing and drifted away from music.
When did you switch to cornet? I switched to cornet to continue with brass banding - about age 9/10! I continued to play the trumpet from time to time, at Uni in different ensembles/orchestras but these days, mainly just blasting out noise at London Irish on the few occasions I have time to go!
What bands have you played for regularly? Tadley Concert Brass, Torbay Brass, Lympstone, Woodfalls and the mighty Friary!
What do you particularly like about playing with Friary? Winning! The attendance and commitment to building a successful band of high-quality musicianship.
Do you play or have you played any other instruments apart from the cornet? Over the years, I have dabbled with various things. I've actually got a saxophone in the loft and can't play that at all! Similar story with the piano in the house. We got it free from Berkshire Maestros as they were looking to shift their old ones but none of us can play it (we're holding out hope that one of the kids might learn). I can play the didgeridoo and am working on circular-breathing to play it properly. I'm getting there, but not completely cracked it yet. I have been known to play tenor horn on occasions - notably for Bournemouth Concert Brass' Pinewalk bandstand series and carols with Friary. I have also played Bb bass once for a Woodfalls Band job playing out the cruise ships at Southampton Docks!
What’s your most memorable banding moment? The second time I played at the Royal Albert Hall playing Breath of Souls in 2011. I would say the first time but I actually remember nothing about it. Second time round I remember everything clearly! It was the first (technically second) time realising the dream of competing at the National Finals (any section) and also in the Royal Albert Hall. We played a rock hard piece that felt virtually unplayable at first yet we gave a very credible performance. I'd always thought about what it must be like to reach the "top" level, never really thinking I'd achieve it. Suddenly, I found myself there after many years in the lower sections and many attempts to qualify with Woodfalls! I do remember thinking that this is actually happening and I'm actually doing it!
The recent Brass In Concert performance last year with Friary is also very special. The transformation from the poor debut performance last time to the audience reaction from our all-encompassing story performance this time round was epic. It was almost worth a story of its own! That emotion of realising that we've delivered it and they "loved it" is a very rare and special feeling. Particularly walking away with the audience vote for most entertaining (beating Cory in the process!) was hugely gratifying and satisfying.
What would you most like to achieve in the banding world? At the moment, the main objective is the British Open. I've competed at nearly every other competition in the UK banding world and ticked off many of those "must-dos". Realistically, the Open is the missing item. The Europeans would be good and competing in a "foreign" competition but that's not as clear in my focus.
Are you involved with any other types of music? No, not really.
Apart from brass, what other genres of music do you enjoy? Surprisingly, very few! I think of my music as a sport for participation. I am not a spectator! I am not even a band geek searching and listening to other versions of test pieces of other competing bands or researching other results. I might give the occasional listen to some versions Adam (Adam Gregory – bass trombone) provides if it will improve my own playing or interpretation but it is a purely selfish performance improvement tactic rather than a love of the music itself! It is exceptionally rare for me to just listen to a piece of music. I would tend to favour a more heavy-rock style and have very little time for the manufactured tripe that is mainstream music. Having said that, I appreciate high-quality playing and more complex construction/composition of the music.
If you were cast away on a desert island, what would be your top three music pieces you’d like to listen to - and why? I really don't know (as per the above). Perhaps something from John Williams as I enjoy most of the iconic films he's written the soundtracks for.
CONGRATULATIONS ON A NEW ARRIVAL:
We are delighted to announce the safe arrival of Arlo Ezra Harvey to proud parents Rhian (cornet) and Simon, on 30th May, weighing in at 5lbs 2oz. Rhian and Simon are thoroughly enjoying the joys of parenthood. Congratulations to them all! Rhian is currently taking a break from banding.
CONGRATULATIONS ON A GREAT ACHIEVEMENT:
Congratulations are also due to cornet player Kat Hawkins who has recently graduated from the University of Surrey with a First Class Honours Degree in Biochemistry. That’s a wonderful achievement, and we wish Kat every success in her future career.
NEW EMAIL ADDRESS:
We have updated the PRO email address to reflect the Band’s current title and web address, so if you need to contact me please use email@example.com. Emails sent to the old address will however be forwarded to the new one for the next few months.