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Friary Guildford Band

Conductor: Chris King
St Margaret's Church
Wednesday 30th August

Friary Guildford demonstrated just why they are currently the top-ranked band in the London & South East Region with an excellent concert relocated to St Margaret's Church due to the inclement weather. 

Opening with a stirring account of 'Knight Templar', the band continued with Chris King's own inventive arrangement of 'Granada'; with plenty of Spanish touches, quirky interludes and unexpected twists.


The first soloist was Chris Pannell with 'Over the Rainbow' (arr Farr); his lush tenor horn sound a joy to hear. Isobel Daws has been playing with Faireys whilst undertaking her studies in Manchester, but she returned to her old band for a captivating account of Gordon Langford's 'Rhapsody for Trombone', the work which won her the Radio 2 Young Musician of the Year title.

'Mid all the traffic' made for an effective interlude; the organ-like sounds of the band filling the church, before Richard Straker's super rendition of 'People'. 'Carmen Fantasy' followed, featuring many of Bizet's familiar melodies, but sometimes with more Langford than Bizet, particularly in the linking passages.


Simon Tong (soprano) and Chris Straker (euphonium) presented 'Live and Let Die' and 'Pure Imagination' respectively, and it was refreshing to hear such a lyrical euphonium solo without a myriad of black notes.

Simon Tong (soprano) and Chris Straker (euphonium) presented 'Live and Let Die' and 'Pure Imagination' respectively, and it was refreshing to hear such a lyrical euphonium solo without a myriad of black notes.

Chris introduced 'Florentina' as a tribute to 'Brassed Off', but one missed the soprano obbligato, not featured in Barsotti's arrangement. No complaints, however, regarding Kenneth Downie's setting of 'Myfanwy', replete with characteristic harmonic touches and bringing out some fine playing, not least from the excellent bass section.

Triumphant close

The band ended the concert with the closing section of 'Glorifico Aeternam', with Chris warning the audience that it gave the percussion section a chance to express themselves, and hoping it would not be too loud.

With the encouragement of the enthusiastic listeners the programme drew to a triumphant close with the melodies, 'Now thank we all our God' and 'The King of Love my Shepherd is'.

It was a most enjoyable concert, compered in a relaxed but informative manner, and with thanks to the venue's staff for making everyone feel at home.

Peter Bale

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