Friary Diary - Issue 76 - June 2021
Welcome to Friary Diary issue 76 - a monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.
WESTMINSTER & GODALMING CONCERTS:
Yes, concerts at long last! You wait 18 months and then two come along in the space of 10 days! Fingers crossed that there are no last minute hitches, but we’re looking forward so much to our first concerts in such a long time. We are set to revisit two of our favourite venues over the next month. We are delighted to be returning to College Garden, Westminster Abbey on Wednesday 25th August for another of our lunchtime concerts, and to Godalming Bandstand on Saturday 4th September for an evening Prom concert. Both events are free, so please join us if you can: we’d love to see you.
Rehearsals continue and have recently moved up to twice a week in a new temporary venue which gives players a good two metre distance. Strict COVID-secure measures remain in place, in line with guidance from Brass Bands England who in turn are guided by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. It’s not ideal as you can imagine, I’m sure, but our priority is to keep everyone safe. But it is certainly wonderful to be rehearsing together again ready for some much longed-for engagements and two major contests.
BRASS IN CONCERT:
The draw for Brass in Concert, to be held at The Sage, Gateshead on Saturday 20th November, has been announced, with Friary taking the final slot out of the ten competing bands. That will mean an evening performance but at the same time Friary’s playing should be fresh in the memory when it comes to the audience entertainment award!
This month I’m delighted to feature another of the Band’s stalwarts, bass trombonist Adam Gregory. Thank you Adam for being my interviewee.
Do you come from a musical family - if so, what did they play?
No I don’t, none of my family at the moment play and none back to my great grandparents did. My sister played the cornet for a few years but grew out of it pretty quickly…lol!
When did you first start playing?
I started playing when I went to a brass workshop at my middle school Heathcote Middle School in Ash Vale. I noticed the largest instrument they had and thought that’s the one for me. They said my arms were too short so maybe something else would be better, but I then said “My arms will grow” so that’s when I started playing!
If that wasn’t a bass trombone, when did you switch?
I started playing tenor trombone as that was the only one I knew existed, started playing in the school band and then joined the 1st Ash Vale Scout band which was the only Scout band in the UK, under the baton of Len Scott a euph player around the area. I played there until I was 16 and left the Scouts and that’s when I joined Friary in 1983. I only read bass clef so had to play bass trombone, I used the band’s tenor with a trigger until I could afford my own bass trombone, a Bach Strad 50B double trigger.
Have you continued playing since then?
Yes, I have been playing since I was 8 years old.
What bands have you played for regularly?
I have only joined two bands, Friary and Alder Valley, but have played with loads of bands: GUS, Redbridge, Aveley & Newham, Farnham, Camberley, Staines, St Sebastian’s, Medway, Egham, Portsmouth City and many more.
What do you particularly like about playing with Friary?
They have always been a great bunch of people who want the best for the band as a whole, nobody is bigger than the band. I love doing contests and that’s another reason as it will make the band better in the long run. The committees always try to do the best for the band.
Other people in the banding world know that Friary are a good band with good people and know how to do things properly. It’s just a great place to be with really nice people who will try to help you with any problems. Have made some great friends.
Do you play or have you played any other instruments apart from Trombone?
Never played another instrument and never wanted to.
What’s your most memorable banding moment?
I think that would be winning our first Area Championship title and going to the Finals as Area Champions. Also, going to Butlins and winning the entertainment prize and coming 2nd overall with our programme with Izzi and Ross as the Prince and Princess. The reaction of the audience and adjudicators was amazing, I came off stage with a big smile!
What would you most like to achieve in the banding world?
I would really like to say I have played in all the best contests, like the Area, Finals, British Open, BIC and the Euros with Friary, it would show that I have been a stalwart of the band that has come from the 4th section to being one of the best bands in the world.
Are you involved with any other types of music? I used to play in a military concert band (Farnborough British Legion Band) for a few years and also played for the Woking Symphony Orchestra, that was with Richard Cox and Steve Thornes but it fizzled out after a few years.
Apart from brass, what other genres of music do you enjoy?
I listen to every kind of music from Classical to Heavy Metal (Metallica), I can sit in the car and put anything on, but mostly like music that is actually played by people and not all electronic.
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?
1. Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. This was the first difficult piece that I played and really enjoyed it and made a great fist of it, was really pleased with how I played and the band played. I remember listening to Fairey Band play the winning performance at the National Finals and thought I and the band would never be able to play this, but we did.
2. Fraternity. This is just a great piece that has so much emotion in it, the writer did such a good job at expressing the feelings of the piece I can just sit and listen to it on and on.
3. Frolic for Trombones. Have played this with so many bands and so many players it just reminds me of all the great trombone players I have played this with and would give some wonderful memories while on the beach of my private island!
4. Fragile Oasis. Again another piece that I listened to so much after hearing Leyland Band playing it at the euros and thinking wow what a piece, I remember speaking to Ali (Richards) and him saying he would love to play it at a contest but it would only be at an own choice contest and we didn’t do many of them so never thought we would play it. When it was chosen for the Senior Trophy in 2017 Ali and I were so happy we couldn’t wait, more memories.
I know they are mostly contest pieces but that is what I enjoy the most, of course I still like concerts but contesting is my first love. (That’s actually four pieces, Adam, but seeing as you’re so passionate about them I’ll let you off!)
With no further updates since April, Friary remains 23rd in the world. For full ranking details, please go to https://www.4barsrest.com/rankings/