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The 2002 Norwegian Brass Band Championships

February 8th and 9th
The Greig Hall

This weekend the 8th and 9th of February sees one of the most important brass band contests on mainland Europe with the 24th Norwegian Brass Band Championships taking place at the magnificent Greig Hall in Bergen.

Not only will the contest decide who are the best bands in the country, but also the winners of the Elite Section will represent Norway at the 2003 European Championships in Bergen itself. In addition there will be a lot of interest created by the competition between the growing number of "overseas" conductors who have been brought in to try and direct their bands to success.

In the Elite Section itself no fewer than 9 of the 10 bands on show will be conducted by "hired help" from the UK, whilst the 1st and 2nd Sections have 4 a piece and even the 3rd Section will see a single representative. Bands must try and do as much as they can to win we know, but it does seem to signal a bit of a worrying trend when only one Norwegian national has the opportunity to test their skills at the highest level in their own country. There is so much playing talent in Norway, but it seems there is a worrying lack of top class conducting stock.

The set test for the Elite Section is Jan Van de Roost's fine "Albion" which thankfully has been used for most National Championships during the past year and is a superb test of skill, musicianship and choreography!

Still, the standard as always has improved year on year and the bewildering selection of "Own Choice" works not only in the Elite Section but also the lower sections shows that bands in Norway are brave as they are hard working. What bands in the 2ND or 3rd Section in the UK would consider tackling "Labour and Love", "Salamander" or "Comedy Overture"?

Meanwhile a real surprise is the inclusion in Section 1 of the newest work by Dr Philip Wilby, "Atlantic" being performed as an "Own Choice" work by one of the bands. Brave or what?

Should be a great weekend of brass band contesting, and so with keeping with our tradition we look in detail at the Elite Section contenders and give our dodgy predictions for all of the sections in turn.

The Elite Section - 10 competing bands

Eikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag - Howard Snell
Ila Brass Band - Frank Renton
Jaren Hornmusikkforening - Helge Haukås
Krohnengen Brass Band - Ray Farr
Manger Musikklag - Allan Withington
Molde Brass Band - Alan Morrison
Oslofjord Brass - Major Peter Parkes
Sandefjord Brass Symposium - Gary Cutt
Stavanger Brass Band - Steven Bastable
Tertnes Brass - Michael Antrobus

Own Choice Works.

Between the Moon and Mexico, Philip Sparke
Contest Music, Wilfred Heaton
Dawn, Chloe's Dance & Bachannale, Maurice Ravel/Snell
..Dove Descending, Philip Wilby
Harrison's Dream, Peter Graham
Klang (!), Ørjan Matre
Lowry Sketchbook, Philip Wilby
Montage, Peter Graham
Revelation, Philip Wilby
Tristan Encounters, Martin Ellerby

The Contenders

howard snellEikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag - Howard Snell

Formed from the merger of two wind bands in the 1960's, Eikanger celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1999 as a music organisation, and are rightly seen as one of Europe's foremost bands. They have won their National title on 8 occasions, the SIDDIS Entertainment Contest on a further 8 occasions and have been European Champions twice.

Howard Snell first conducted the band in 1986 and has had an important input to Eikanger's development. In 2002 the band is still developing onto new musical-levels and has just performed a remarkable concert featuring the work of Wilfred Heaton. The band has an impressive line-up of players not only on the principal chairs but also as a whole. The ones to beat we think.

frank rentonIla Brass Band - Frank Renton

The band hails from the large town of Trondheim and was the first band to stop the Anger-bands of Eikanger, Stavanger and Manger domination of the Norwegian Nationals. Those three bands had shared all the titles between them since 1979. Ila Brass Band is back in the Elite Section after wining the First Section title last year with a scorching performance of Masquerade. With Frank Renton at the helm, they could very well make a mark at this years contest.

Jaren Hornmusikkforening - Helge Haukås

Founded in 1936 Jaren made their debut at the Norwegian Nationals in the 2nd Section in 1980. They are the newest band in the Elite Section and gained 6th place at the Nationals in February conducted by current MD Helge Haukas. The only Norwegian with the baton this weekend Helger also conducted the band last year in their first battle in the Elite Section.

They managed to hold their place in the Elite Section and are still working very hard to improve.

ray farrKrohnengen Brass Band - Ray Farr

Founded in 1969 by former members of Krohnengen School Band, Krohnengen developed into one of Norway's top bands following the appointment of Alan Withington as Musical Director in 1981. By 1987 they were promoted to the Elite Section and in 1990 they won the National title under Karl Ole Midtbo. Ray Farr has carried on the work of both Alan and Karl and they will surely be a band to have in mind for a place amongst the prizes.

alan withingtonManger Musikklag - Allan Withington

Founded in 1922 Manger have long been recognised as one of Norway and Europe's premier banding outfits and as long ago as 1981 they gained 2nd place at the European Championships. They have won the Norwegian National title on 6 occasions, including 4 years in a row under the baton of David King - an unique achievement in Norwegian banding history.

Martin Winter is the band's regular conductor, and took the band to a well-deserved 2nd place at the SIDDIS contest last November. Allan Withington is their conductor on this occasion and will drive them to the limit to work them back on the winning track of the 1990's.

Players to look out for are Kjetil Morken on soprano and Thor Arne Pedersen on Euphonium, the former solo euphonium player at Marple. Should be up and around the top places.

alan morrisonMolde Brass Band - Alan Morrison

Molde was formed in 1979 and this is the second time they will be playing in the Elite Section. The last time in 1999, they produced two respectable performances but still lost their status and had to go the way back to the 1st Section.

The band will be conducted by Alan Morrison and will surely do all that's possible to maintain their position in the Elite Section for a time to come. Rumours in the banding world in Norway are saying that Molde has a really good line-up this year with Henrik Dalhaug on Euphonium their best-known player.

peter parkesOslofjord Brass - Major Peter Parkes

Founded in 1995 as a project band that rehearsed just once a month, they have made rapid progress through the Norwegian Sections. John Philip Hannevik who has been connected with the Salvation Army has conducted them throughout since 1985, but on this occasion they have got hold of Major Peter Parkes who brings a wealth of experience with him.

The band are on good form and produced their best ever result at the SIDDIS contest last November, when they came third conducted by Kim Lofthouse. They feature many fine young players and one to look out for is Tarjei Gilbrandt on solo cornet. Could make a mark.

gary cuttSandefjord Brass Symposium - Gary Cutt

The past four years has seen the National title shared between Eikanger and Sandefjord, with Sandefjord winning in 1998 and 2000. Sandefjord had a disappointing 5th place at SIDDIS last year and are probably working hard to get back in the top three. They bring in the highly respected and highly talented Garry Cutt, who took the band to National success in 2000 and this should guarantee a fine hard working and musical performance.

Plenty of very good players around the stand such as Principal Cornet Hans Christian Nystad and their solo euphonium Roger Næss. Possible podium placing.

steve bastableStavanger Brass Band - Steven Bastable

Stavanger was established in 1980 and since that time they have won the Norwegian title four times, the last of which was back in 1992.

If the omens are right however 2002 could see the band back on the winning trail as they also won in 1982. Stavanger will be conducted by Steven Bastable, the talented Musical Director of the Tredegar Band from Wales and news is that they have been working hard to get the National Trophy back to Stavanger for the first time in 10 years. Plenty of very good players around the stand, the one really to look out for will be Rune Gundersen who played for 20 years with Manger before moving to Stavanger on Principal Cornet.

Tertnes Brass - Michael Antrobus

Tertnes was formed in 1964 but it was first in the 1980's that the band started on their progress to becoming one of the most consistent performers in the Elite Section. They were 2nd Section National champions in 1984 and 1985 and had their first spell in the Elite Section in 1986.

The highlight on the contest scene for Tertnes was their 2nd place at the Nationals in 1995 that got them into competing at the European Championships in 1996 in Bergen where they were placed 6th.

A curiosity about this band is that Leif Ove Andsnes, Norway's famous pianist soloist, was a promising baritone player in Tertnes. He probably wouldn't have to do all his touring around playing with the worlds finest orchestras if he had chosen to go for baritone instead of the piano....

In this occasion they will be conducted by Michael Antrobus, the former resident conductor of Black Dyke and Eikanger. A conductor with a long and excellent pedigree at European contests, he took Manger Musikklag to second place at the 1980 European Championships.

4BarsRest Prediction:

Eikanger Bjorsvik
Manger Mussiklag

Section 1:

This promises to be a very close run race for the title and promotion to the Elite Section, with nearly every band on the day able to produce a winning performance of note.

The favourites should be Tomra Brass conducted by Arnfinn Dalhaug who came 4th here last year, whilst Sola conducted by Russell Gray would want to hope to improve on last year's 3rd place. Recent form is harder to judge but at the last Norwegian contest, SIDDIS Brass 2001, Alexander Brass Band won the first Section prize with Askøy, Kleppe and Oster on theirs heels, but in that contest Tomra was competing in the top section.

Others I with a shout could be Alexander Bras Band who won the 2nd Section last year and are conducted by none other than Philip Sparke and Radoy Brass under the baton of the experienced Gareth Pritchard who knows more than most about the Norwegian banding scene.

Competing Bands:

Alexander Brass Band - Philip Sparke
Askøy Brass Band - Yngve Nikolaisen
Brøttum Musikkforening - Thorbjørn Lunde
Kleppe Musikklag - Eirik Gjerdevik
Oster Brass - Reid Gilje
Radøy Brass - Gareth Pritchard
Sagvåg Musikklag - Michael Fowles
Sola Brass Band - Russel O. Gray
Sørum Musikklag - Trond Elnes
Tomra Brass Band - Arnfinn Dalhaug
Trondheim Politis Brassband - Odd Steinar Mørkved

Own Choices in alphabetical order:

Atlantic, Concerto Grosso for Brass Band, Philip Wilby
Dances and Arias, Edward Gregson
Diversions on a Bass Theme, George Lloyd
English Heritage, George Lloyd
Lowry Sketchbook, Philip Wilby
Lowry Sketchbook, Philip Wilby
Odyssey, Kevin Norbury
Paganini Variations, Philip Wilby
Tallis Variations, Philip Sparke
Tallis Variations, Philip Sparke
The Forest of Dean, Op.126, Derek Bourgeois

4BarsRest Prediction:

Tomra Brass
Alexander Brass
Sola Brass
Radoy Brass
Askoy Brass
Oster Brass

Section 2:

Another Section that should see a close run contest, with plenty of bands well capable of winning promotion. Flesland Musikklag won the 2nd Section at the recent SIDDIS contest, with Brottum coming second, but favourites should be Hornorkesteret Stavanger, conducted by Morten Hansen. A quite young band that always are very enjoyable to listen too. An interesting choice in the "Own Choice" section will be the first performance of "Nautalis" by Martin Ellerby.

Others to look out for should be Laksevag under Ray Farr, Orskog with John Hudson and Kopervik and Richard Evans.

Competing Bands:

Austrheim/Lindås Musikklag - Christian Breistein
Bergen Brass Band - Knut Harald Rydland
Flesland Musikklag - Egil Magnussen
Frei Hornmusikk - Stein Åge Sørlie
Hornorkesteret Stavanger - Morten E. Hansen
Kopervik Musikkorps - Richard Evans
Laksevåg Musikkforening - Ray Farr
Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn - Alan Fernie
Rosendal Musikklag - Pål W. Jøsok
Stangaland Brass - Stian Svendsen
Tromsø Brass - Tommy Bakkelund
Tysnes Musikklag - Jan Magne Olsen
Vennesla Kristne Brass - Bjørn Breistein
Ørskog Brass - John Hudson

Own Choices in alphabetical order:

Diversions, Philip Sparke
Endavour, Philip Sparke
Five Blooms in a Welsh Garden, Gareth Wood
Journey Into Freedom, Eric Ball
Nautalis, Martin Ellerby
Overture, John O´ Gaunt, Gilbert Vinter
Resurgam, Eric Ball
Rhapsody in Brass, Dean Goffin
Royal Parks, George Lloyd
Spectrum, Gilbert Vinter
The Forest of Dean, Op.126, Derek Bourgeois
The Land of the Long White Cloud ´Aotearoa´, Philip Sparke
The Land of the Long White Cloud ´Aotearoa´, Philip Sparke
The Plantagenets, Edward Gregson

4BarsRest Prediction:

Hornorkesteret Stavanger

Section 3:

This section has got some really difficult own choices like Salamander (McCabe), Comedy Overture (Ireland) and Dances and Arias (Gregson). It will be interesting for the audience to see how these pieces are handled by the bands. The heart may have ruled the head for many here!

Favourites will be Oslo Brass, a new band from (obviously!) Oslo. Rumours suggest that the band is put together by music students and freelancers from that area. Conducted by Helge Haukas, they probably will be the band to beat. Others to look out for should be Rosendal, Jolster, Skodie and Folleso, although not necessarily in that order.

Section 3:

Bamble Musikkorps - Jon Mikal Guldager
Brumund og Nordaasen Musikkforening - Thorbjørn Lunde
Follesø Musikklag - Reid Gilje
Fræna Musikkorps - Jens Kr. Modal
Førde Musikkorps - Pål W. Jøsok
Gjøvik Bybrass - Roar Bjerkehagen
Hasle Ungdomsbrassband - Tarjei Gilbrant
Haukås Musikklag - Knut Harald Rydland
Jølster Musikklag - Gunnar Smaadal
Lismarkens Musikforening -, Erling J. Myrseth
Nes Musikkforening - Andres Halla
Oltedal-Ålgård Musikkorps - Russell Gray
Oslo Brass-, Helge Haukås
Randaberg Musikkorps - Ebbe Sivertsen
Rong Bras -, Oddvar Nøstdal
Sauda Musikklag - Thormod Gilje
Skeie Gladbrass - Einar Mæland
Skodje Ungdomskorps - Henrik Dalhaug
Stavanger Kommunes Korps - Geir Karlson
Ungdomskorpset Samklang - Tormod Flaten

Own Choices in alphabetical order:

A Malvern Suite, Philip Sparke
Collage of Contemporary Praise, William Himes
Comedy Overture, John Ireland
Dances and Arias, Edward Gregson
Journey Into Freedom, Eric Ball
Labour and Love, Percy Fletcher
Main Street, Eric Ball
Music for a Festival, Philip Sparke
Music for a Festival, Philip Sparke
Music for a Festival, Philip Sparke
Overture - Truth Aflame, Kevin Norbury
Rhapsody in Brass, Dean Goffin
Salamander, John McCabe
Sinfonietta, Gordon Langford
The Prizewinners, Philip Sparke
Triptych for Brass Band, Philip Sparke
Triptych for Brass Band, Philip Sparke
Two Ceremonial Fanfares, James Curnow
Variations on a Chord, Jan de Haan
Variations on ´Laudate Dominum´, Edward Gregson

4BarsRest Prediction:


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