Southern Counties Amateur Bands Association (SCABA) held their 27th Entertainment contest at the Hawth Theatre in Crawley on Sunday 18th May, a contest in which Friary Guildford Brass Band has an almost unrivalled track record. In fact before this year, Friary Guildford had won the title a total of five times and were just one win away from equalling Aveley and Newham’s record of six victories. Friary Guildford last won in 2006, and were unable to defend their title last year because of a clash with the highly regarded Spring Festival contests held annually in Blackpool. However this year the band took the decision to compete once again against some of the South’s best brass bands despite only having a week to prepare after making their 500 mile round trip to Blackpool the previous weekend. This would be Friary Guildford’s musical director, Chris King’s, first outing to the Hawth at the helm of the band and as a result Chris and the band were keen to put on a performance that would excite the audience and impress adjudicator, David Horsfield. An “impressive entrance with sparkling sounds” As the penultimate of eight bands to take to the stage in the top section and playing directly after the notable Welwyn Garden City Band, the percussion team guided Friary’s brass onto stage with a sombre half-tempo battle rudiment before Warrant Officer King directed the attack of Jack Stamp’s “Gavorkna Fanfare”. A wall of dissonant scales grabbed the attention of the audience before two troops of cornets, one standing on each side of the stage, fired a monotone of perfectly placed sixteenth notes towards the adjudicator’s box at the back of the auditorium. After a successful attack, band and audience paused whilst a warm chord faded into silence only broken by a cyclic percussive passage depicting distant church bells. After some more majestic chords, the Hawth was again bombarded with a frenzy of brass and percussion, which was described by Mr Horsfield as an “impressive entrance with sparkling sounds”. “Bravo!” The band had already started to impress the audience and it was now the turn of principal cornet virtuoso, Richard Straker, to demonstrate his talent and agility by playing Rafael Mendez’s challenging Hejre Kati. Mr Horsfield was clearly impressed, commenting that “the soloist shows flair in the melody line”, whilst there is a “Relaxed feel from the band”, “Bravo!” “Attention to detail is good” The custom of playing a traditional brass band march at the SCABA entertainments contest spans back to 1993, when for the first time the Sam Hughes “Sussex by the Sea” memorial trophy was presented to the band that performed the best march on the day. This year Friary’s entry was Shipley Douglas’ robust and driving march, Mephistopheles, which mixes compound and simple time signatures to great effect to produce two different feels played by Friary at a “tempo just right for this march”. Mr Horsfield also commented that the band’s “attention to detail is good” and that the “compact sound of the ensemble impresses”. “The musical feel is what Goff intended” Whilst Friary’s performance of Goff Richards’ expressive and lyrical “A Sweet Shepherdess” from “Cross Patonce” had one or two minor blemishes, Mr Horsfield remarked that “The small ensemble feature shows the band at its best“ and the performance’s “musical feel is what Goff intended”. “A Big Finish” Friary’s diverse programme concluded with the Finale from Dean Jones’ Glorifico Aeternum, which allowed the band to demonstrate their “Exciting sounds enhanced by the percussion team” with “skilfully made” tempo changes and “a big finish”. With strong performances from a number of bands it was clear that the contest’s eventual victor would need to impress Mr Horsfield with each of the areas that points were to be awarded; the music, programme entertainment, presentation and deportment on stage. With the announcement that Friary Guildford Band had won the Martin Davey Memorial Shield for a record equalling sixth time by five clear points, members and supporters of Friary Guildford Band started their celebrations. The band also won the Sam Hughes “Sussex by the Sea” memorial trophy for best performed march for the sixth time since 2002, and to top things off Friary’s principal trombonist and conductor of LGB Brass celebrated a win in the ‘B’ Section. Mr Horsfield’s final comment on the adjudication sheet read “Much to admire with your presentation, deportment and music. Thank you.” Friary Guildford Brass Band celebrate with the SCABA Entertainment Contest 2008 Trophy and March Prize outside the Hawth Theatre, Crawley All in all an excellent day for Friary Guildford Band, which will help propel them into the busy summer season before preparing for the new contesting season starting with Folkestone in October. For more information visit www.FriaryGuildfordBand.co.uk.