2005 Norwegian Brass Band Championships - Preview: Elite Division


4BR will be in Bergen to listen to the very best bands in Norway battle it out to see who will represent them at the 2006 Euroepan Championships. Can Stavanger make it three in a row, or will someone stop them?

Elite Division:
The Competing Bands:

Set Work
Friday 11th February

Own Choice
Saturday 12th February

Adjudciators: Aline Nistad, Mogens Andresen, Bengt Eklund

This should prove to be a tremendous contest this year, what with Stavanger trying to gain their first ever hat trick of wins at the Nationals, Ekanger trying to wrestle back the title they last won in 2001, and with others such as Manger, Sandefjord and Krohnengren all looking to regain their top place as the best band in the country.

The added spice of course is the list of major conducting talent that has been shipped in once more to try and steer those bands to victory, after last year in which the home grown talent failed somewhat to shine on the big stage. This time then it is the likes of Professor King (out to claim seventh title), Dr Nicholas Childs (looking for his third), Garry Cutt, Helga Haukas and Ray Farr (looking for their second) and Dr Robert Childs (looking for his first) who will be in front of the bands – not forgetting the talented Benny Wiame, Nigel Boddice, Catherine Winnes and Jepser Sorenson.

The European style format of a set work and own choice selection tends to bring the best out of the bands here, and once again the organisers have selected a modern contemporary work as the test piece for the Friday night. 

This time it is Torsten Aagaard-Nilsen's acclaimed ‘Riffs and Interludes' which will test the bands to the full, whilst 4BR understands the composer himself will be on hand to be part of each performance as he will control the electronic loop which forms part of the music for all the bands. Fancy that happening in the UK eh? It is a pretty difficult work technically for the bands to master, but we have heard it a few times now (it was played here as an own choice selection by Jaren in 2003) and it is an accessible work for the listener to get to grips with. It should be a worthy test, although not as difficult for these bands to master as was Eric Ball's ‘A Kensington Concerto' in 2003, which was a veritable minefield for the Norwegians!

The judges for the contest are the Danish professional musicians, Aline Nistad who is a trombonist with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Mogens Andresen who is a well respected Danish musical educator, Bengt Eklund, best know as the Swedish conductor of the Gothenburg Brass Band who have competed at the European Championships on a number of occasions.

The choices the bands themselves have made will also raise a few eyebrows perhaps, with  ‘Concerto Grosso', ‘Music of the Spheres', ‘St. Magnus', ‘Harrison's Dream', ‘Contest Music', ‘Ballet for Band', ‘Between the Moon and Mexico', ‘…Dove Descending', ‘Paganini Variations' and ‘Montreux Wind Dances' all being used. A great selection eh? And one that will take some sorting out in the tent.  

Who ever wins, gets the invite to the 2006 European Championships, wherever they will be and will have the bragging rights in Norway for the next twelvemonths at least.

So who do we think will win? Check out after the list of competing bands to find out.

Nicholas ChildsEikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag
  Dr Nicholas Childs
4BR Ranking:
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: 2nd (Reid Gilje)
2003: 2nd  (Nicholas Childs)
2002: 7th  (Howard Snell)
2001: Winners  (Nicholas Childs)
2000: 2nd  (Nicholas Childs)  
1999: Winners  (Nicholas Childs)
1998: 4th  (I. Bergby)
1997: 2nd  (Howard Snell)
1996: 2nd  (Howard Snell)
1995: 5th  (Howard Snell)
1994: 4th  (Howard Snell)
1993: Winners  (Howard Snell)
1992: 3rd  (Howard Snell)
1991: Winners  (Howard Snell)

Overall Record:
Winners in 1981, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2001.
Last Year: 2nd Overall: 4th on set work/3rd on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2004: Concerto No 1 for Brass Band
2003: The Trumpets of the Angels
2002: Daphnis and Chloes

The 8 times winners will be coming to this years contest trying to regain a title they last won in 2001 under Nicholas Childs and after last years failed attempt with resident MD Reid Gilje at the helm they have opted to return with the man who has brought them the title twice.    

Eikanger was formed in the 1960's and has been European Champions on two occasions as well as National Champions and SIDDIS winners on 9 occasions.

Last year they once again failed to live up to their undoubted promise with a rather luck lustre account of Derek Bourgeois's ‘Concerto No 1' which was not in hindsight a particularly inspired choice with which to win a contest such as this. Musically Eikanger remain a class act, but they do sometimes forget about the practicalities of winning a brass band contest (something Stavanger certainly have not in the past two years).  Their innate musicianship is also their contesting Achilles heel.

If they hit top form and use their heads and not their musical hearts then they could be unbeatable – if not, then another year may very well pass them by, although Dr Childs will surely bring a impressive sense of reality to them this time around. 

They have produced winning own choice 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.  Wil they add to that this time?

Ila Brass Band
  Catherine Winnes
4BR Ranking:
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: 3rd (Thomas Rimul)
2003: 7th  (Bjorn Sagstad) 
2002: 8th  (Frank Renton)
2001: Winners 1st Division  (B. Sagstad)
2000: 7th  (B. Sagstad)
1999: 5th  (H. Haukas)
1998: 6th  (N. Childs)
1997: 5th  (N. Childs)
1996: 4th  (Ray Farr)
1995: 4th (Maurice Hamers)
1994: 3rd  (Maurice Hamers)
1993: 3rd  (Maurice Hamers)
1992: 7th   (Maurice Hamers)

Overall Record:
Winners 1989
Winners of 1st Division in 2001
Last Year:
3rd Overall: 3rd on set work/4th on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2004: Exergy Re-Revisited
2003: Salamander
2002: Between the Moon and Mexico

The band hails from the large town of Trondheim and in 1989 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 achieved three thirds under Maurice Hamers in 1993 and 1994 and again last year under Thomas Rimul 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.  Last year though they upped their form considerably to come 3rd overall and give two very fine performances of both the set work and own choice. They will be keen to repeat that again this year, but they may find it a touch harder.    

Helga HaukasJaren Hornmusikkforening
  Helge Haukås
4BR Ranking:
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: 8th (Helge Haukås)
2003: 9th  (Helge Haukås)
2002: 9th  (Helge Haukås)
2001: 6th  (Helge Haukås)
2000: 2nd in 1st Division (N/K)
1999: 6th in 1st Division (B. Eklund)
1998: n/k 
1997: 9th in 1st Division (T. Elnes)
1996: 4th in 1st Division (T. Elnes)
1995: 3rd in 2nd Division (T. Elnes)

Overall Record:
Best of 6th in Elite Division (since 1994)
Last Year:
8th Overall: 8th on set work/ 8th on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2004: English Heritage
2003: Riffs and Interludes
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 just about held their own since that time.

They have also gained something of a reputation of pushing the boundaries a touch with their own choice selections. In 2002 they performed  "Klang!" by Orjan Matre which didn't quite come off and in 2003 played the equally risqué Prelude and Riffs – so it won't hold any fears for them this time around.

What they will choose this time is anyone's guess, but with the excellent Helge Haukås at the helm, you can be guaranteed it will be slick and polished, although they will hope to up their form from a twelve month ago when they only managed 8th place in each section of the contest. 

Ray FarrKrohnengen Brass Band
  Ray Farr
4BR Ranking:
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: 7th  (Ray Farr)
2003: 6th  (Ray Farr)
2002: 2nd  (Ray Farr)  
2001: 3rd  (Ray Farr)  
2000: 3rd  (Ray Farr)  
1999: 2nd  (Ray Farr)  
1998: 7th  (Kim Lofthouse)
1997: 3rd  (K.O. Midtbo)
1996: 3rd  (K.O. Midtbo)
1995: 6th  (Allan Withington)
1994: 2nd  (K.O. Midtbo)
1993: 4th  (K.O. Midtbo)
1992: 4th  (N/K)

Overall Record:
Winners 1990
Second Division Winners 1986
Last Year:
7th Overall: 7th set work/ 6th own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2004: Harrison's Dream
2003: Masquerade
2002: Revelation

Founded by former school members in 1969, Krohnengen made early progress under the tutelage of Allan Withington who directed them to the First Division title in 1986, whilst 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 five years under Ray Farr's direction they can boast two runners up places and two third prizes, although in the past two years they have fallen off the pace slightly and came a disappointing 7th last time out.

Overall though it is an excellent record, and in Ray Farr they have a conductor who can bring the very best out of the most complicated of scores. They could well feature highly here if they play to form, and make the most of the talents on their own choice selection.  

Jesper SorensenManger Musikklag
  Jesper Juul Sørensen
4BR Ranking:
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: 5th (Jesper Juul Sørensen)
2003: 4th  (Allan Withington)
2002: Winners  (Allan Withington)
2001: 5th  (Allan Withington)
2000: 4th  (Allan Withington)
1999: 4th  (Allan Withington)
1998: 2nd  (David King)
1997: Winners (David King)
1996:  Winners (David King)
1995:  Winners (David King)
1994:  Winners (David King)
1993: 2nd  (David King)
1992: 2nd

Overall Record:
Winners in 1980, 1983, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2002
Last Year:
5th Overall: 5th on set work/4th on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2004: Paganini Variations
2003: Harmony Music
2002: Montage

Manger was 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.

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, whilst in 1998 they missed out on a fifth title when they came runners up to Sandefjord Brass Symposium. Since 1999 Allan Withington directed the band, but in 2004 they opted for the talented Jesper Juul Sorensen who was crowned the 2003 European Conductor of the Year.

5th place last year was a disappointment for the band though as they didn't really feel at home on their own choice work that set against what other rivals were playing, seemed a bit dated and a little easy.    Plenty of talented players though and if they get back to the type of form they have been used to showing here over the years they should feature high up the prize list again. 

Nigel BoddiceMolde Brass Band
  Nigel Boddice
4BR Ranking: 
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: 4th (Alan Morrison)
2003: 5th  (Alan Morrison)
2002: 4th  (Alan Morison)
2001: 2nd in 1st Division (A. Morrison)
2000: 4th in 1st Division (N/K)
1999: 7th (N Albelseth/A. Morrison)
1998: Winners in 1st Division  (Nils Magne Abelseth)
1997: n/k
1996: 12th in 1st Division  (N/K)
1995: 7th in 1st Division (A. Dalhaug)

Overall Record:
Best of 4th in Elite Division in 2002 and 2004
Winners of First Division 1998
Last Year:
4th Overall: 1st on set work/ 7th on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2004: Concerto Grosso
2003: …..Dove Descending
2002: Harrison's Dream

Molde were formed in 1979 and they have worked their way up through the sections in Norway ever since. This is the fourth time they have played in the Elite Division and this year will surely be looking to improve on their excellent fourth place of twelve months ago.

Last year they performed brilliantly under the baton of Alan Morrison and won the set work section of the contest with a fine account of ‘Graffiti' by Knut Vaage. They may not have known it themselves, but they were possibly on the verge on creating a bit history for themselves that weekend, but they sounded a little tired on their ambitious choice of ‘Concerto Grosso' in the second half of the contest and fell away to come 7th. It was still a mighty impressive effort though. Nigel Boddice takes over the reins this time and he will have to work really hard to inspire his troops once more. They have the belief now to go with their talent, then they could well feature eve more highly this year.

Garry CuttOslofjord Brass
Garry Cutt 
4BR Ranking:
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: 9th (Christian Tenfjord)
2003: 8th  (Robert Childs)
2002: 5th  (Peter Parkes)
2001: 8th  (Selmer Simonsen)
2000: Winners of 1st Division (Selmer Simonsen)
1999: 8th  (J.P. Hannevik)
1998: 6th  (J.P. Hannevik)
1997: 2nd in 1st Division  (J.P. Hannevik)

Overall Record:
Best of 5th in Elite Division
Winners of 1st Division 2000
Last Year:
9th Overall: 9th on set work/ 9th on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2004: Montage 
2003: Revelation
2002: Contest Music

Just seven years after they were founded in 1995, Oslofjord finally came of age at the Norwegian Nationals by coming 5th at the 2002 Championships under the baton of Peter Parkes. That performance was based on two cracking performances and although they couldn't quite repeat it a second time in 2003, they did give two very convincing performances under the direction of BAYV Cory MD Robert Childs.

Last year they opted for the home grown talents of Christian Tenfjord, but it didn't quite work out so well and with two consecutive ninth places they just didn't make a mark. This time though they have taken the ambitious step of booking in Garry Cutt, and you can be sure they will therefore by well drilled and prepared to make a mark this time around. A top six place on higher should be the least of their ambitions then.    

Robert ChildsSandefjord Brass Symposium
  Dr Robert Childs
4BR Ranking:
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: 6th (John Philip Hannevik)
2003: 3rd  (Garry Cutt)
2002: 6th (N/K)
2001: 4th  (Bryan Hurdley)
2000: Winners (Garry Cutt)
1999: 3rd  (Gareth Pritchard)
1998: Winners (Gareth Pritchard)
1997: 6th  (Gareth Pritchard)
1996: Winners in 1st Division (Gareth Pritchard)
1995: 3rd in 1st Division (Ray Farr)
1994: 3rd in 1st Division (Michael Antrobus)
1993: N/K
1992: 8th (N/K)

Overall Record:
Winners in 1998 and 2000
Winners First Division 1996
Last Year:
6th Overall:  10th on set work/ =1st on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2004: Apocalypse
2003: Of Men and Mountains
2002: ….Dove Descending

Sandefjord Brass Symposium were champions here both in 1998 under Gareth Pritchard and 2000 under the baton of Garry Cutt but had a real curates egg of a contest weekend last year when they came 10th on the set work and then went out and won the own choice section of the contest. 

Consistency the may well be the key for this years attempt, and you can be sure Dr Robert Childs will have ensured that they are well prepared and thoroughly slick and professional on both test pieces they will play.   A win may be just beyond them, but not a podium place at least. 

Sola Brass Band
Benny Wiame
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: Winners of First Division (Steve Bastable)
2003: 4th in First Division (Steve Bastable)
2002: 6th in First Division (N/K)
2001: 3rd in First Division (Russell Gray)
2000: Winners in 2nd Division (Russell Gray)
1999: 9th (Melvin White)
1998: N/K
1997: 12th in First Division (T. Anundsen)
1996: 3rd in First Division (N/K)
1995: 4th in First Division (Melvin White)
1994: 7th  (Melvin White)
1993: 7th  (James Scott)

Overall Record:
Winners of First Division 2004
Winners of Second Division 2000
Last Year:
Winners of the First Section
Own Choice Selection:
2004: Chivalry

Sola return to the Elite Section this year after wining the First Division title in fine style under the baton of Steve Bastable twelve months ago.

No talented Mr Bastable this time around, but they have opted for the very experienced Benny Wiame who has seen it and very nearly done it all on the European stage over the years. This is an intelligent choice, as they will have top up their form to make a mark against the quality of the bands on show here. There certainly have the talent around the stands (they showed that last year), but they will need the belief, and the stamina to make a mark this time around.

David KingStavanger Brass Band.
  Prof. David King
4BR Ranking:  
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: Winners (David King)
2003: Winners  (David King)
2002: 3rd  (Steve Bastable)
2001: 2nd  (Frank Renton)
2000: 5th  (Frank Renton)
1999: 6th  (Philip McCann)
1998: 3rd  (James Gourlay)
1997: 4th  (James Gourlay)
1996: 6th  (Garry Cutt)
1995: 3rd  (Garry Cutt)
1994: 5th  (Garry Cutt)
1993: 5th  (Richard Evans)
1992: Winners (Richard Evans)

Overall Record:
Winners in 1982, 1984, 1986, 1992, 2003, 2004
Last Year:
Winners Overall: 2nd on set work/ =1st on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2004: Masquerade
2003: Concerto Grosso
2002: Tristan Encounters

Stavanger were formed in 1980, but since that time they have won the National title on no less than six occasions – 1982, 1984 and 1986 under Kjell E. Larsen, 1992 under the baton of Richard Evans and then for the last two years under David King.

There is little doubt that at present they are also playing in the form of their lives (under David King at least) and they should be the band to beat once more here. In the past two years they have inherited the King formula of making sure that they produce two quality performances to take the title and last year in particular was no exception. They will certainly be brim full of confidence and determined to make it a historic hat trick of wins. The question is, can anyone stop them?

2005 Own Choice Selections:
D. Bourgeois - Concerto Grosso
K. Downie - St. Magnus
P. Graham - Harrison's Dream
W. Heaton - Contest Music
J. Horovitz - Ballet for Band
C. Rütti Montreux - Wind Dances
P. Sparke - Between the Moon and Mexico
P. Sparke - Music of the Spheres
P. Wilby - Dove Descending
P. Wilby - Paganini Variations

4BR Prediction:
Lets jump straight in on this one. We think Eikanger will regain their tile they last won in 2001. It has been long overdue (according to them at least) and we think this time they could very well just pip their rivals Stavanger. It will be a very close run thing though, and strangely it may well not come down to the own choice selections this year, the set work could well hold the key.

We think these two are a little distance ahead of the rest, but it should still be a very high quality contest to fill the remaining podium place. That this time we think will go to Sandefjord under Robert Childs who could very well beat a Ray Farr inspired Krohnengen to third place.

The final top six places should fall to Oslofjord and Manger with our dark horse being Molde Brass Band.

1. Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
2. Stavanger
3. Sandefjord Brass Symposium
4. Krohnengen Brass Band
5. Oslofjord Brass
6. Manger Musikklag

Dark Horse: Molde Brass Band


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