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2003 Norwegian Brass Band Championships

7th and 8th February 2003
Grieg Hall

Friday 7th Feb: 18.00 - 22.10 – Elite Division test piece
Saturday 8th Feb: 14.30 - 18.40 – Elite Division, own choice

4BR previews the forthcoming Norwegian Brass Band Championships.

First of all we look at the bands who will be competing for the big prize in the Elite Section and the opportunity to represent their country at the 2004 European Championships.

Howard Snell also remembers his first visit to the Nationals as well.

The UK surprisingly shares many things with our Norwegian counterparts, with a disdain for the Euro, a love of football and brass bands being just three of them. Over the years the latter has seen a further cross fertilisation of ideas and ideals with Britain providing a yearly export of Musical Directors to Norway to conduct their bands at the National Championships.

Such has been the success of the export trade that no less than seven of the ten bands in the Elite section this year will be directed by MD’s from the UK shores, and whilst the idea of borrowing the best may seem sound enough, it has meant that it is now thirteen years since a home grown talent has won the Championships. Whether the three “home boys” can reverse the trend this year we’ll have to wait and see, but one thing is for certain; if Norwegian bands are to compete against the best of the rest in Europe (and especially the UK) then they will have to start producing top class brass band conductors to do it.

Norwegian brass banding has much to be proud of, but a record that boasts just five winning conductors at their National Championships since 1979 and none since 1990 isn’t one of them. A further three imports will be strutting their stuff in the First Division, whilst three will be doing the same in the Second and two in the Third. It is a worrying trend.

This year the top bands will have to get to grips an oldie, but a good oldie in the shape of Eric Ball’s elegiac “A Kensington Concerto” which was written for the National Championships of Great Britain in 1972 and due to 2003 being the centenary of the birth of the composer, bands here, as well as the rest of brass band Europe have been enjoying his fine work once more.

It is the second time an Eric Ball work has been chosen here (the only other time was “Festival Music” in 1989) and it should prove a test of musicianship for all the bands. Technically it may not have the fireworks of some of the pieces chosen in recent years, but it will certainly sort out the best from the rest.

As for the choices the bands have made for the “Own Choice” section, there is also a hint that many have gone for exhibitionism rather than pure musical content. Showcasing technical talent is a real strength of Norwegian bands and it will be interesting to compare their efforts on the Ball and then on their own selection. It may have been even more interesting if the own choice selection was confined to a selection of “classics” (like the European in 1997) and then we could really see if Norway had mastered the English brass band repertoire.

That’s for another time though, and there will be no doubt that many of the performances this year will be pyrotechnically crackers indeed with a selection box that contains works from the pens of Gregson, Bourgeois, Wilby, McCabe, Sparke and Aagaard – Nilsen. Working out who masters these works best will certainly be a hard job for the judges.

So who do we think will be crowned Champions then? In years past, it would have been easy to suggest that it was going to be fight between two or maybe three bands, but not since 1997 has a band retained their title, and due to the duel format of the contest, it could well be a very close run thing – with of five or six bands that could well become the 2003 Champion Band of Norway. We are not going to tell you what we think just yet, but read about the bands and then check out our dodgy prediction.

The Competing Bands

Elite Division

Alexander Brass Band

Conductor: Morten E. Hansen
4BR Ranking: None
Norwegian Ranking: 8
National Record:
2002 – Winners 1st Division; 2001 – Winners 2nd Division; 2000 – 8th in 2nd Division; 1999 – 11th in 1st Division; 1998 – 7th in 1st Division; 1997 – 1st in 2nd Division; 1996 – 3rd in 2nd Division; 1995 – 1st in 3rd Division;
Overall Record: Winners of 1st Division in 2002, 2nd Division in 2001 and 1997, and 3rd Division in 1995
Last Year: Winners of 1st Division
Own Choice Selection 2002: N/A

One of the real success stories of the Norwegian brass band world, Alexander Brass Band were formed in 1994 and since that time they have moved up from the bottom 3rd Division up to the Elite Division for this year.

Last year they won the 1st Division conducted by Philip Sparke playing “Quintessence” by Robert Redhead, which was their fourth National title to go with wins at the other major Norwegian contest, SIDDIS in 1997 and 2001. This year they will be conducted by Morten Hansen who conducted the band when they won the 2nd Division title in 2001.

At the SIDDIS contest in November they came 5th in a field of 7, beating Tertnes and Jaren Hornmusikklag and coming just 4 points behind Manger. The odds may be a touch long on them making it three National wins in a row, but they will certainly perform well and could take a few notable scalps. Ranked 8th in Norway, they could well improve on that.

Conductors Record: Morten Hansen takes the band once again, but will also be directing Hornorkesteret Stavanager in the First Division, who he directed to second place last year.

Eikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag

Conductor: Nicholas J. Childs
4BR Ranking: 27
Norwegian Ranking: 1
National Record:
2002 – 7th; 2001 – 1st; 2000 – 2nd; 1999 – 1st; 1998 – 4th; 1997 – 2nd; 1996 – 2nd ; 1995 – 5th; 1994 – 4th; 1993 – 1st; 1992 – 3rd ; 1991 – 1st.
Overall Record: Winners in 1981, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2001.
Last Year: 7th overall – 8th on set work / 5th on own choice
Own Choice Selection 2002: Daphnes and Chloes

The 8 times winners will be coming to this years contest trying to ensure that the 7th place of 2002 was just a one off that won’t be repeated. That result not only meant they relinquished the title they won in 2001, but also meant that they would not be representing their country at the European Championships later this year.

The brass band was formed in the 1960’s and has been European Champions on two occasions as well as National Champions and SIDDIS winners on 8 occasions.

Howard Snell was at the helm last year for the last time and even with that result, his record with the band (4 wins) here was immense. They were 7th on the set work “Albion” and 5th playing “Daphnes and Chloes” and that meant they were never in the hunt. Nicholas Childs has been brought in this time to spearhead their attempt and his record with Eikanger is very impressive with 2 wins in 1999 and 2001 and second in 2000. They will be hoping though not to rely too much on the own choice selection to win the contest, although they do tend to shine at this aspect. They produced winning performances in 1996 (Revelation), 1997 (Montage), 1999 (Year of the Dragon) and 2000 (Dove Descending), although only in 1999 did they actually win the overall title.

At the recent SIDDS contest they were runners up to Stavanger but they should and could be the band to beat again here. With Nicholas Childs at the helm and a desire to make it a ninth win, they will surely be there or thereabouts come results time. Ranked 27 on the 4BR Rankings and 1 in Norway itself, they will be keen to show bands in the UK that they deserve to be higher and bands in Norway that they are the best in the land.

Conductors Record: Nicholas Childs will be taking the band for the fourth time here, although he has also conducted Ila Band in 1998 and 1997. He has two wins, one second, a fifth and a sixth place to his credit since 1997.

Ila Brass Band

Conductor: Bjørn Sagstad
4BR Ranking: None
Norwegian Ranking: 11
National Record:
2002 – 8th; 2001 – Winners 1st Division; 2000 – 7th; 1999 – 5th; 1998 – 6th; 1997 – 5th; 1996 – 4th; 1995 – 4th; 1994 – 3rd; 1993 – 3rd; 1992 – 7th;
Overall Record: Winners 1989. Winners of 1st Division in 2001.
Last Year: 8th overall – 5th on set work/ 9th on own choice
Own Choice Selection 2002: Between the Moon and Mexico

The band hails from the large town of Trondheim and in 1990 they were the first band to break the early stranglehold of the “Anger” bands, Eikanger, Stavanager and Manger by winning the Nationals. This has been their only success, and since then they have two thirds under Maurice Hamers to show for their attempts to repeat that historic feat under Karl Ole Midtboe.

They have been consistent performers though every year, although they did drop out of the Elite Division after coming 7th in 2000, only to return after winning the 1st Division under Bjorn Sagstad. The ex conductor of the Point of Ayr band from North Wales is back at the helm this year after Frank Renton led the band to 8th place here in 2002. On that occasion they came 5th on the set work and 9th on their own choice and so they will be hoping for an improvement this time around.

They did not compete at the SIDDIS contest in November (or 2001) and so there is no real indication of current form. Should be good enough to hold their own though even of the big prizes may be beyond them. Ranked 11 in Norway, they will be hoping to improve on that for sure.

Conductors Record: Bjorn Sagstad returns for the third time with the band after taking them to 7th place in 2000 and winning the 1st Division title in 2001.

Jaren Hornmusikkforening

Conductor: Helge Haukås
4BR Ranking: None
Norwegian Ranking: 9
National Record:
2002 – 9th; 2001 – 6th; 2000 – 2nd in 1st Division; 1999 – 6th in 1st Division; 1998 – n/k ; 1997 – 9th in 1st Division; 1996 – 4th in 1st Division; 1995 – 3rd in 2nd Division;
Overall Record: Best of 6th in Elite Division (since 1994)
Last Year: 9th overall – 9th on set work/ 8th on own choice
Own Choice Selection 2002: Klang! – Orjan Matre

Although Jaren were founded as far back as 1936, they did not make their debut at the Nationals until 1980, but they have made steady progress over the years and were promoted into the Elite Section in 2001. That followed as a result of them being runners up to Oslofjord in the 1st Division in 2000 and under Helge Haukas they have held their own in the past two years. Last year though they took a real risk in performing a new work entitled “Klang!” by Orjan Matre didn’t quite come off and meant that they had an 8th place to go with the 9th on the set work to come 9th overall.

At SIDDIS in November they came 7th (down one place from 2001), which although was last, was against a strong field. They could well find it hard to make a breakthrough this year but will be hoping to improve on last year’s result at least. Not a prize-winner, but could make a mark against more fancied bands. Ranked 9 they could well make an even bigger impression this year.

Conductors Record: Helge Haukas conducts once more. He is also down to take Oslo in the 2nd Division . In 1981 he conducted Eikanger to their first ever National win, when he directed them to victory on “Spectrum”.

Krohnengen Brass Band

Conductor: Ray Farr
4BR Ranking: 66
Norwegian Ranking: 6
National Record:
2002 – 2nd; 2001 – 3rd; 2000 – 3rd; 1999 – 2nd; 1998 – 7th; 1997 – 3rd; 1996 – 3rd; 1995 – 6th; 1994 – 2nd; 1993 – 4th ; 1992 – 4th;
Overall Record: Winners 1990
Last Year: 2nd overall – 4th set work/ 1st own choice
Own Choice Selection 2002: Revelation

Founded by former school members in 1969, Krohnengen made early progress under the tutelage of Allan Withington, although their 1990 win here was directed by Karl Ole Midtboe on “Blitz”.

Since then they have been one of the most consistent bands at the championships and in the past four years under Ray Farr’s direction they can boast two runners up places and two third prizes. That is an excellent record and they came very close to making it a second National title last year when they won the own choice section of the contest with a superb performance of “Revelation”. That added to 4th on the set work meant that they lost by two points from Manger, but showed that at this contest they are real contenders.

The band didn’t compete at SIDDIS in November although they came 7th in 2001, so what the current form is we will have to wait and see. Their long term record though is excellent and come the results they should once more be up there challenging once more. Ranked 6th at home and 66 in the 4BR Rankings, they will be hoping to show that last year wasn’t a one off.

Conductors Record: Ray Farr takes the band for the fifth consecutive year and so far he hasn’t missed out on a podium place. He also conducted Eikanger to the title here in 1985 as well as Sandefjord to 3rd place in the 1st Division in 1995.

Manger Musikklag

Conductor: Allan Withington
4BR Ranking: 69
Norwegian Ranking: 3
National Record:
2002 – 1st; 2001 – 5th; 2000 – 4th; 1999 – 4th; 1998 – 2nd; 1997 – 1st; 1996 – 1st; 1995 – 1st; 1994 – 1st; 1993 – 2nd; 1992 – 2nd;
Overall Record: Winners in 1980, 1983, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2002
Last Year: Winners overall – 1st on set work/ 3rd on own choice
Own Choice Selection 2002: Montage

Manger were founded in 1922 and have long been recognised as one of the premier Norwegian brass bands. They picked up their first of 7 National titles way back in 1980 under the baton of Tom Brevik and that year went on to gain runners up spot at the European Championships themselves.

Since then they have won under Michael Antrobus in 1983 before an unprecedented run of four consecutive titles between 1994 and 1997 under David King. In 1998 they missed out on a fifth title when they came runners up to Sandefjord Brass Symposium. That was also the last time David King conducted the band here and since that time the baton has been wielded by Allan Withington. Since 1999 he has directed them to two fourth places and a fifth before last years win. Ranked 3 at home and 66 in the 4BR Rankings.

That win was based on them topping the set work section by three points and then putting in a real solid show on “Montage” to come 3rd and win the title by two clear points. At the recent SIDDIS contest though they could only come 4th (they were runners up in 2001), but that was under the direction of Kim Lofthouse and the return of the Williams Fairey MD should boost their changes of making it a 8th title and equalling Eikanger’s record.

Conductors Record: Allan Withington takes the band for the fifth consecutive time this year, and according to the press release from EBBA is due to take the band at the forthcoming European Championships as well. Whether this is true or not (Williams Fairey are still not 100% about attending) we will have to wait and see. Allan has also conducted Askoy here in 1994 when they came 10th in the 1st Divisionand Krohnengen in 1995 when they came 6th.

Molde Brass Band

Conductor: Alan Morrison
4BR Ranking: None
Norwegian Ranking: 12
National Record:
2002 – 4th; 2001 – 2nd in 1st Division; 2000 – 4th in 1st Division; 1999 – 7th; 1998 – n/k; 1997 – n/k; 1996 – 12th in 1st Division; 1995 – 7th in 1st Division;
Overall Record: Best of 4th in Elite Division in 2002
Last Year: 4th overall – 6th on set work/ 4th on own choice
Own Choice Selection 2002: Harrison’s Dream

Molde were formed in 1979 and they too have worked their way up through the sections. This is the second time they have played in the Elite Division and after a superb fourth place last year they will be hoping to make it a long stay at that.

Alan Morrison led them last year where they came 6th on the set work and then gave a cracking performance on Harrison’s Dream to come 4th and 4th overall. They haven’t competed at the SIDDIS contest for the past few years, so current form s a little hard to judge, but with Alan Morrison back at the helm once more they will be keen to try and repeat last years result.

May not quite have enough about them to come any higher than last year, but don’t be surprised if they find a place in the battle for midfield places.

Conductors Record: Alan Morrison has been associated with the band for some time and the record books show him directing the own choice work with the band in 1999.

Oslofjord Brass

Conductor: Bob Childs
4BR Ranking: None
Norwegian Ranking: 5
National Record:
2002 – 5th; 2001 – 8th; 2000 – Winners of 1st Division; 1999 – 8th; 1998 – 6th; 1997 – 2nd in 1st Division;
Overall Record: Best of 5th in Elite Division and Winners of 1st Division 2000 (since 1997)
Last Year: 5th overall – 7th on set work/ 2nd on own choice
Own Choice Selection 2002: Contest Music

Just seven years after they were founded in 1995, Oslofjord finally came of age at the Norwegian Nationals by coming 5th last year under the baton of Peter Parkes. That performance was based on them coming 7th on the set work and then producing an absolute corker of a performance on “Contest Music” to come runners up to Krohnengen and lifting them to their highest ever overall placing.

This time they have really gone for broke though and have hired the most in form MD in the business in Bob Childs of BAYV Cory, the British Open Champions. He will surely bring his experience to bear and you can be assured that the bands performance will be as detailed and well prepared as any of the more fancied runners.

The band came 3rd at the recent SIDDIS contest under the baton of Christian Tenfjord where they beat the reigning champions here Manger into fourth place and where only beaten by Eikanger and Stavanger. They will surely be keen to at least play to their domestic ranking of number 5.

Conductors Record: This will be Bob Childs debut appearance at the Norwegian Nationals, although he did play with the Black Dyke band in 1996 when the European Championships were held at the Grieg Hall.

Sandefjord Brass Symposium

Conductor: Garry Cutt
4BR Ranking: 99
Norwegian Ranking: 4
National Record:
2002 – 6th; 2001 – 4th; 2000 – 1st; 1999 – 3rd; 1998 – 1st; 1997 – 6th; 1996 – 1st in 1st Division; 1995 – 3rd in 1st Division; 1994 – 3rd in 1st Division; 1993 – n/k; 1992 – 8th;
Overall Record: Winners in 1998 and 2000
Last Year: 6th overall – 3rd on set work/ 10th on own choice
Own Choice Selection 2002: ….Dove Descending

Sandefjord Brass Symposium were champions here both in 1998 under Gareth Pritchard and 2000 under the baton of Garry Cutt and once more they have gone with the MD at Grimethorpe to see of they can make it a trio of wins at the Nationals.

The last two years though have seen the band drop down the prize list as they came 4th under Bryan Hurdley in 2001 and then 6th last year under Garry Cutt. That placing was due to them coming 3rd on the set work but a disastrous 10th and last on “Dove Descending” that sunk their chances. They will surely be hoping that was a one off and that they will be able to show more of the overall form that brought those two title successes.

The band didn’t compete at the SIDDIS contest last year although they were 5th in 2001, so current form may be a bit of a mystery. They could well be challenging for honours come results time, but we think it could be more of a realistic ambition if they can just make it onto the podium.

Conductors Record: Garry Cutt will be taking the band here for the third time, after appearances in 2000 when they took the title for a second tme and last year when they were 6th. Garry has also conducted Stavanger between 1994 and 1996 when he directed them to 5th, 3rd and finally 6th place.

Stavanger Brass Band
Conductor: David King
4BR Ranking: 59
Norwegian Ranking: 2
National Record:
2002 – 3rd; 2001 – 2nd; 2000 – 5th; 1999 – 6th; 1998 – 3rd; 1997 – 4th; 1996 – 6th; 1995 – 3rd; 1994 – 5th; 1993 – 5th; 1992 – 1st;
Overall Record: Winners in 1982, 1984, 1986, 1992
Last Year: 3rd overall – 3rd on set work/ 2nd on own choice
Own Choice Selection 2002: Tristan Encounters

Stavanger were formed in 1980, but since that time they have won the National title on no less than four occasions – 1982, 1984 and 1986 under Kjell E. Larsen and 1992 under the baton of Richard Evans. They have come close since (runners up in 2001 and third in 1998 and 1995) and last year under the direction of Steve Bastable they were on the podium again.

That result was based on them coming second on the set work and then coming a slightly disappointing 6th on their own choice selection “Tristan Encounters” that contained too many individual errors to make a better impression. However third place was a fine result and was just a point behind Krohnengen in second. Ranked number 2 at home, they will be keen to push Eikanger further and take over at the top of the ranking tree.

This year though the band has really pushed the boat out and have hired the talents of David King who makes his first appearance at these championships since 1998. What this partnership will achieve is anyone’s business, but you can be assured they will be looking to win and take their first title since 1992. Some famous brass bands names have tried with the band since 1992, including Garry Cutt in 1994, 1995 and 1996, James Gourlay in 1997 and 1998, Philip McCann in 1999 and Frank Renton in 2000 and 2001. None quite did it, so can Dr King be the first since Richard Evans? We think that they could well be there or thereabouts, but first?

Conductors Record: David King returns after a four year Norwegian sabbatical, but he will be keen to become the leading winning conductor in the history of the Norwegian Nationals. He currently shares the lead on four wins with Howard Snell, although David King’s all came consecutively with Manger between 1994 and 1997. In fact we believe he has never come lower than runner up here since 1992. Some record.

Own Choice Selections 2003:

Connotations - Edward Gregson
Concerto Grosso - Derek Bourgeois
Dove Descending - Philip Wilby
Harmony Music - Philip Sparke
Masquerade - Philip Wilby
Of Men and Mountains - Edward Gregson
Revelation - Philip Wilby
Riffs and Interludes - Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen
Salamander - John McCabe
The Trumpets of the Angels - Edward Gregson


Roy Newsome, Sverre Starkson Olsrud, Lars Erik ter Jung

The Winners:

2002: Manger Musikklag
2001: Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
2000: Sandefjord Brass Symposium
1999: Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
1998: Sandefjord Brass Symposium
1997: Manger Musikklag
1996: Manger Musikklag
1995: Manger Musikklag
1994: Manger Musikklag
1993: Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
1992: Stavanger Brass Band
1991: Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
1990: Krohnengen Brass Band
1989: Ila Brass Band
1988: Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
1987: Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
1986: Stavanger Brass Band
1985: Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
1984: Stavanger Brass Band
1983: Manger Musikklag
1982: Stavanger Brass Band
1981: Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
1980: Manger Musikklag
1979: Metronom ‘66

Winning Conductors:

2002: Allan Withington
2001: Nicholas Childs
2000: Gary Cutt
1999: Nicholas Childs
1998: Gareth Pritchard
1997: David King
1996: David King
1995: David King
1994: David King
1993: Howard Snell
1992: Richard Evans
1991: Howard Snell
1990: Karl Ole Midtboe
1989: Karl Ole Midtboe
1988: Howard Snell
1987: Howard Snell
1986: Kjell E. Larsen
1985: Ray Farr
1984: Kjell E. Larsen
1983: Michael Antrobus
1982: Kjell E. Larsen
1981: Helge Haukas
1980: Tom Brevik
1979: Kjell Martinsen

Test Pieces:

2002: Albion – Jan Van de Roost
2001: Seid – Torstein Aargaard - Nilsen
2000: Contest Music – Wilfred Heaton
1999: The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea – Derek Bourgeois
1998: Hymn’s at Heaven’s Gate – Elgar Howarth
1997: Isaiah 40 – Robert Redhead
1996: Energy – Robert Simpson
1995: King’s Messenger – George Lloyd
1994: Quintessence – Robert Redhead
1993: Firestorm – Stephen Bulla
1992: The Essence of Time – Peter Graham
1991: Ballet for Band – Joseph Horovitz
1990: Blitz – Derek Bourgeois
1989: Festival Music – Eric Ball
1988: Connotations – Edward Gregson
1987: Pageantry – Herbert Howells
1986: Contest Music – Wilfred Heaton
1985: Dances and Arias – Edward Gregson
1984: An Epic Symphony – Percy Fletcher
1983: Variations on a Ninth – Gilbert Vinter
1982: Land of the Long White Cloud – Philip Sparke
1981: Spectrum – Gilbert Vinter
1980: Entertainments – Gilbert Vinter
1979: The Belmont Variations – Arthur Bliss

Winning Bands Own Choice Works:

2002: Montage – Peter Graham
2001: Concerto Grosso – Derek Bourgeois
2000: Tristan Encounters – Martin Ellerby
1999: The Year of the Dragon – Philip Sparke
1998: Variations on an Enigma – Philip Sparke
1997: Montage – Peter Graham
1996: Variations on an Enigma – Philip Sparke
1995: Dances and Arias – Edward Gregson
1994: Harmony Music – Philip Sparke
1993: The Year of the Dragon – Philip Sparke

Winning Own Choice Work:

2002: Revelation – Krohnengen Brass Band
2001: Montage – Stavanger
2000: Dove Descending – Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
1999: The Year of the Dragon – Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
1998: Riffs and Interludes – Stavanger
1997: Montage – Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
1996: Revelation – Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
1995: Montage – Tertnes Brass

2002 Result:

Elite Division
Overall Result:

1. Manger Musikklag (97/95) 96pts
2. Krohnengen Brass Band (91/97) 94pts
3. Stavanger Brass Band (94/92) 93pts
4. Molde Brass Band (89/94) 91.5pts
5. Oslofjord Brass (87/96) 91.5pts
6. Sandefjord Brass Symposium (93/88) 90.5pts
7. Eikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag (88/93) 90.5pts
8. Ila Brass Band (90/89) 89.5pts
9. Jaren Hornmusikkforening (86/90) 88pts
10. Tertnes Brass (85/91) 88pts

Set Work: “Albion” - Jan Van de Roost

1. Manger Musikklag - 97pts
2. Stavanger - 94pts
3. Sandefjord Brass Symposium - 93pts
4. Krohnengen Brass Band - 91pts
5. Ila Brass Band - 90pts
6. Molde Brass Band - 89pts
7. Oslofjord Brass - 87pts
8. Eikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag - 88pts
9. Jaren Hornmusikkforening - 86pts
10. Tertnes Brass - 85pts

Own Choice Work:

1. Krohnengen Brass Band – 97pts
2. Oslofjord Brass – 96pts
3. Manger Musikklag - 95pts
4. Molde Brass Band - 94pts
5. Eikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag – 93pts
6. Stavanger - 92pts
7. Tertnes Brass – 91pts
8. Jaren Hornmusikkforening – 90pts
9. Ila Brass Band – 89pts
10. Sandefjord Brass Symposium – 88pts

The 4BR Prediction:

So who do we think will lift the 2003 Norwegian Brass Band Championship title?

It is difficult to say really, especially as so many of the bands have put faith (and lots of money) in some pretty big names from over the North Sea. However, here we go....

For us it's going to be a very close run thing between Eikanger, Stavanger and Manger - the three traditional heavyweights of the Norwegian brass band scene, with Eikanger we think just pipping the rest.

Below that we go for Krohnengen and Oslofjord with Sandefjord making up the top six. A dark horse may be Alexander, but we aren't too sure on that.

Our top six then reads as follows:

1. Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
2. Stavanager
3. Manger Musikklag
4. Krohnengen
5. Oslofjord
6. Sandefjord

Dark Horse: Alexander Brass

Howard Snell Remembers..........

My first visit to Norway was with Desford Band, sometime early 80’s, when that Band was in the rampant form which took it to so much success. A couple of years later I judged at the National in Bergen and soon after was asked to conduct Eikanger at a 1986 December weekend work-in, to see how we got on together. Subsequently I was asked to ‘do’ the Nationals in 87, and have been associated with them ever since.

That first contest taught me a great deal about the Norwegian approach to things. As I was driven from the airport on my first visit, I was warned (by someone no longer associated with the Band) that it was not advisable to be as hard upon the players as I was in England, as the Scandinavian approach was altogether more, how shall I say, civilised. A few questions revealed that players shouldn’t, even couldn’t, be pressurised, as in England. ‘No one is heavily criticised in Norway.’ In fact, it all sounded very cosy and almost gentlemanly. I began to wonder why I was there, not being a gentleman by birth, temperament or inclination.

Once I had heard them play, the word ‘civilised’ was quickly replaced in my mind by a shorter word … ‘sloppy’. The first rehearsal went along in a friendly enough way until I began to tire of politeness: I sensed a moment coming on! I asked the cornets individually how much time they spent in daily practice. The solo cornets started respectably enough but it diminished rapidly until the last third cornet … the Band Chairman … laughingly said ‘None.’ I replied, ‘If you were in my Band in the UK’ …. pause for the silence to reach a real ppp …. ‘you wouldn’t be!’ Silence, then a very quiet buzz. I never saw him again.

We all got on really well after that, with only the occasional tantrum from me, and a few weeks later won the National on Pageantry.

Five months later, we won the European in Lucerne (against Dyke and Desford), the first non-English Band to do so … but that’s another, extremely interesting story!

My last contest was at the Euro 2002, with Eikanger, and they played me out as wonderfully as I could have hoped. Since 86 they have developed their playing, their musicianship and their enterprise in a way that I salute wholeheartedly. Win or lose at NM 2003, without fail they will continue onwards and upwards!

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