2008 Norwegian National Championships - Preview: First Division


4BR casts its eye over the 12 bands hoping to make the step up and join the Elite bands in Norway this weekend.

Geig HallFirst Division:

Adjudicators: Kim Lofthouse and Jan Roger Øren
Saturday 9th February (9.00)

The First Section here in Norway is really the model of how the First Section in the UK should work. The bands are a mix of the ambitious, the emerging and rebuilding (although this year there is also one who are here by administrative default too). 

The winners tend to find life tough in the Elite Section but if they survive can prosper long term, whilst if they return they are certainly the better for the experience. 

The own choice selections are varied and invariably well chosen, although now and again some do bite off more than they can chew. It makes for a remarkably well balanced and competitive contest.

This year the repertoire on display varies from classics of the genre such as ‘Festival Music’, ‘Journey into Freedom’ and ‘Pageantry’ to ‘Music of the Spheres’, ‘…Dove Descending’ and ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ – with plenty more besides. Now that’s a bit of a challenge to compare and contrast for the judges isn’t it?    

There are plenty of bands in with a chance of victory and a number of bands come to the contest backed by good form. One to savour then, especially if overall the standard lives up to that on display twelve months ago.
Who do we think that could be then? Find out at the bottom of the page…    

Askøy Brass Band
  Egil Magnussen

National Record:
2007: =4th (Egil Magnussen)
2006: 6th (Helge Haukas)
2005: 3rd (Egil Magnussen)
2004: 3rd (Tom Brevik)
2003: 3rd
2002: 2nd in Second Division (prom)
2001: 6th
2000: 11th
1999: 3rd
1998: 7th
1997: 7th
1996: 2nd
1995: 7th
1994: 10th 

Last Year: =4th 

Own Choice Selection:
2007: Partita
2006: Journey into Freedom
2005: Tallis Variations

Askøy has done very well here over the past few years and under Egil Magnussen they delivered a fine performance of ‘Partitia’ to end up in joint fourth place twelve months ago. 

The combination returns once more looking to claim their first National title and they will surely be looking to up their form from SIDDIS where they came 3rd late last year. Should be in with a real shout if they play to form. 

Haukås Musikklag
Thor-Arne Pedersen

National Record:
2007: =8th (Thor-Arne Pedersen)
2006: 7th (Thor–Arne Pedersen)
2005: Winners of Second Division (Thor–Arne Pedersen) (prom)
2004: Winners of Third Division (Thor–Arne Pedersen) (prom)
2003: 11th in Second Division (rel)
2002: 4th
2001: 13th
2000: =9th 

Last Year: =8th

Overall Record:
Second Division winners 1993, 2005
Third Division winners 2004

Own Choice Selection:
2007: Dances and Arias
2006: Tallis Variations
2005: Connotataions

Haukås have found their feet so to speak at this level in the past two years after gaining consecutive national titles in 2004 and 2005.  Now is the time to push on then?

They delivered a solid enough showing of ‘Dances and Arias’ last year that just tired towards the end under Thor-Arne Pedersen to come joint 8th but didn’t really shine at SIDDIS where they eventually came home in 10th place. They need to up their form here them to make more of a mark.  

Jølster Musikklag
Arvid Anthun

National Record:
2007: Winners of Second Division (Arvid Anthun) (prom)
2006: Winners of Third Division (Arvid Anthun) (prom)
2005: 4th (Arvid Anthun)
2004: 2nd in Fourth Division (Arvid Anthun) (prom)
2003: 9th in Third Division (rel)
2002: 7th
2001: 4th
2000: 6th

Overall Record:
Second Division winners 2007
Third Division winners 1993, 2006

Last Year:  Winners of Second Division

Own Choice Selections:
2007: The Lord is King
2006: Voyage of Discovery
2005: Nautalis 

A real up and coming band, Jølster will be looking to claim their thirds National title in a row here this year. Arvid Anthun is one of the rising conducting stars in the country and his influence was clear to everyone to see and hear twelve months ago when they took the Second Division in some style with a fine performance of ‘The Lord is King’. That performance was full of quality – with excellent cornet and trombone features.

They beat off the opposition at SIDDIS late last year too to take the Second Division title there, so can they win here in their first appearance at this level. Don’t bet against them doing just that.  

Kleppe Musikklag
Russell Gray

National Record:
2007: 3rd (Russell Gray)
2006: 3rd (Eirik Gjerdevik)
2005: 4th (Eirik Gjerdevik)
2004: =5th (Eirik Gjerdevik)
2003: 6th
2002: 4th
2001: 12th
2000: 7th

Overall Record:
Second Division winners 1981

Last Year: 3rd 
Own Choice Selection:
2007: Dances and Alleluias
2006: English Heritage
2005: Chivalry

Kleppe return once more under the baton of Russell Gray and the Scotsman will be looking to push the band on towards their second national title here – 27 years after their first.

Last year they were excellent value for a very musical performance of ‘Dances and Alleluias’ which did contain some lovely musical touches, and if they have managed to improve since then as well as build on the 4th place achieved at SIDDIS then they just may well have enough about them to claim the top prize.    

Laksevåg Musikkforening
Tom Brevik

National Record:
2007: =4th (Tom Brevik)
2006: 4th in Third Division (Tom Brevik) (promoted to First Division)
2005: 3rd (Tom Brevik)
2004: 5th (Tom Brevik)
2003: 7th
2002: 12th in Second Division (rel)
2001: 6th in Second Division
2000: 2nd

Last Year: =4th 

Own Choice Selections:
2007: A Kensington Concerto
2006: The Land of the Long White Cloud
2005: Salute to Youth

After jumping up a couple of divisions last year, Laksevåg certainly showed that the decision was justified with a sterling performance of ‘A Kensington Concerto’ under the baton of Tom Brevik which had a lovely understated sense of style. 

It was great to hear a band playing with such ‘authentic’ style last year on such a classic piece and it will be interesting to see how they get on this year with their own choice selection. They are certainly coming here on good form as they came runner up at SIDDIS at the end of last year. Ones to listen out for.  

Oslo Brass Band
Frode Amundsen

National Record:
2007: 2nd (Frode Amundsen)
2006: 2nd (Michael Antrobus)
2005: 7th (Sverre S. Olsrud)
2004: 2nd in Second Division (Sverre S. Olsrud) (prom)
2003: 3rd
2002: Winners of Third Division (prom)
2001: DNE
2000: DNE

Overall Record:
Third Division winners 2002

Last Year: 2nd

Own Choice Selection:
2007: Revelation
2006: Paganini Variations
2005: Blitz

Perhaps one of the favourites to take the title given their past form here in the last two years and the remarkable showing at SIDDIS where they beat a whole host of higher ranked bands to come third behind Eikanger and Stavanger.

The inspiration Frode Amundsen has really brought a sense of stylish ambition to the band and if they can just resist the temptation to over reach themselves they could well be celebrating a National title.  Last year they played to their limit on ‘Revelation’ which wouldn’t have been out of place in the Elite Division, but it found reward. What awaits the listeners and judges this time we wonder?  

Oster Brass
Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen

National Record:
2007: 7th (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen)
2006: 9th (Reid Gilje)
2005: 5th (Reid Gilje)
2004: 10th (Oddmund Hjartaker)
2003: 11th
2002: 10th
2001: 8th
2000: 10th
1999: 7th 

Overall Record:
Second Division winners 1982, 1983, 1992, 1995

Last Year: 7th 

Own Choice Selection:
2007: Forest of Dean
2006: Variations on an Enigma
2005: English Heritage

Oster are moving in the right direction at this contest, even if it is by quite small increments. Last year under Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen they were solid enough in coming home in 7th place with a finely structured performance of a tricky old test piece in the Bourgeois ‘Forest of Dean’ which certainly impressed us – if not the judges. 

They showed decent form at SIDDIS late last year though where they came 5th, so that should have given them a boost of confidence ahead of their assault here.  

Radøy Brass
Tormod Flaten

National Record:
2007: 6th (Gareth Pritchard)
2006: 8th (Gareth Pritchard)
2005: 8th (Gareth Pritchard)
2004: 2nd (Gareth Pritchard)
2003: 5th
2002: 9th
2001: 5th
2000: 5th
1999: 5th 

Overall Record:
First Division winners 1994, 1997
Second Division winners 1988, 1990, 1991

Last Year: 6th 
Own Choice Selection:
2007: Montage
2006: Odyssey
2005: London Overture 

Radoy haven’t really shone here in the past three years despite delivering solid enough efforts on three testing own choose selections.   Last year was a case in point with a performance of the very difficult ‘Montage’ that had its moments (especially from the cornet section) but just lacked for overall consistency of delivery. 

Tormod Flaten takes over at the helm this year and the former euph star at Eikanger has already led them to a confidence boosting performance at SIDDIS where they came 6th. More of the same here then or even better?   

Sola Brass Band
John Philip Hannevik

National Record:
2007: 12th (Christopher Evans)
2006: 4th (Rune Gundersen)
2005: 10th in Elite Section (Benny Wiame)
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: 12th

Own Choice Selection:
2007: Variations on an Enigma
2006: Dances and Arias
2005: Between the Moon and Mexico

Sola are in need of a good result here after falling away somewhat dramatically to 12th place last year after perhaps placing faith in ambition rather than good quality basic playing.  It was a bit of a struggle on ‘Enigma’. 

They have shown that they are more than capable enough to win here, taking the title just a few years back in 2004, but the talented John Philip Hannevik will have to bring his talent to bear this time around if they are to do that. The good news though is that they have shown that it may well be possible after a fine win at SIDDIS under the direction of Selmer Simonsen.

Sørum Musikklag
Christian Tenfjord

National Record:
2007: =8th (Christian Tenfjord)
2006: 2nd in Second Division (Erling J. Myrseth) (prom)
2005: 11th in First Division (Erling J. Myrseth)
2004: =7th (Trond Elnes)
2003: 7th
2002: 7th
2001: 2nd in 2nd Division
2000: Joint 5th in 2nd Division 

Overall Record:
Winners of Third Division 1994 

Last Year: =8th

Own Choice Selection:
2007: A Lowry Sketchbook
2006: Trittico
2005: Spectrum

After a couple of free fall years Sørum certainly bounced back in 2006 and last year they showed that the progress they had made was solid and long lasting. Nothing too spectacular but a commendable performance of ‘A Lowry Sketchbook’ that got better as it went along gave them joint 8th place.

Another decent return at SIDDIS showed that they are more than capable of holding their own when they came home in 11th place, so perhaps another small step in the right direction is on the cards here this time too.   

Tertnes Amatørkorps
Tormod R. Flaten

National Record:
2007: 2nd in Second Division (Tormod R. Flaten) (prom)
2006: 8th (Tormod Flaten)
2005: =4th (Tormod Flaten)
2004: 4th in Third Division (Tormod Flaten) (prom)
2003: Winners of Fourth Division (Tormod Falten) (prom)
2002: DNC
2001: DNC
2000: DNC 

Overall Record:
Winners of Fourth Section 2003

Last Year: 2nd in Second Division

Own Choice Selections:
2007: Coventry Variations
2006: Quintessence
2005: Rhapsody in Brass

Tormod Flaten is going to be a busy chap this weekend with the conductor’s baton as once again he conducts the band he has nursed up though the sections since 2003. 

In the last three years the band has prospered on well chosen own choice selections and that was certainly the case last time out with a balanced an stylish rendition of ‘Coventry Variations’ that contained some neat cornet work in particular. It’s a step in class but so far the band and their MD haven’t been found wanting.  

Tomra Brass Band
Frans Violet 

National Record:
2007: 4th in Elite Section (relegated due to admin error)
2006: Winners of First Division (Frans Violet) (prom)
2005: 2nd (Frans Violet)
2004: =7th (Arnfinn Dalhaug)
2003: 2nd
2002: 3rd
2001: 4th
2000: 8th in Elite Division (rel)
1999: Winners of First Division 

Overall Record:
Winners of First Division 1993, 1999, 2006

Last Year: Disqualified  

Own Choice Selection:
2007: Journey to the Centre of the Earth
2006: Journey to the Centre of the Earth
2005: Whitsun Wakes

Now then. If it hadn’t been for an administration oversight then Tomra would be playing in the Elite Section this year and looking to better their amazing 4th place result. That’s history now but we are sure they will want to get back there as soon as possible.

The standard of their playing was very much of an elite level even if their bill paying wasn’t, so they will be one of the favourites here this year for sure. Frans Violet will bring his musical class to proceedings and the desire for a quick promotion should see them right in the mix come the announcement of the results.     

Own Choice Selections:
A.   Chivalry (Ellerby)
B.   Journey into Freedom (Ball)    
C.   Pageantry (Howells)     
D.   Elgar Variations (Ellerby)      
E.    Festival Music (Ball)    
F.    …Dove Descending (Wlby)    
G.    Dances and Arias (Gregson)    
H.    Diversions on a Bass Theme (Lloyd)    
I.    Tallis Variations (Sparke)     
J.    Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Graham)     
K.   Salute to Youth (Vinter)     
L.   Music of the Spheres (Sparke)        

2007 Result: 

1. Jaren Hornmusikkforening (Helge Haukås) - 95
2. Oslo Brass Band (Frode Amundsen) - 94
3. Kleppe Musikklag (Russell Gray) - 92
=4. Askøy Brass Band (Egil Magnussen) - 90
=4. Laksevåg Musikkforening (Tom Brevik) - 90
6. Radøy Brass (Gareth Pritchard) - 89
7. Oster Brass (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen) - 88
=8. Haukås Musikklag (Thor-Arne Pedersen) - 87
=8. Sørum Musikklag (Christian Tenfjord) - 87
10. Follesø Musikklag (Eirik Gjerdevik) - 84
11. Alexander Brass Band (Morten E. Hansen) - 82
12. Sola Brass Band (Christopher Evans) - 78

Soloist prize: Euphonium, Kleppe Musikklag
Best section: Percussion, Jaren Hornmusikkforening 

4BR Prediction:

A close run contest? On paper it is hard to pick a clear winner, so it will depend on who produces the goods on the day and who tickles the fancy of the judges outside the box. 

Tomra should be in the Elite Division and showed enough quality last year under Frans Violet to make them one of the favourites, but they will be pushed right to the line by the likes of Oslo on the back of their amazing SIDDIS result and Sola who also produced a fine victory there.

Jolster are full of ambition and could be ones to watch out for, whilst Kleppe and Lakesvag should make up the top six if they play to form. Our dark horse on this occasion is Askoy who have a bit of a proven track record of achievement here.

1. Tomra
2. Oslo Brass
3. Sola Brass
4. Kleppe Musikklag
5. Jolster Musikklag
6. Lakesvag Musikkforening

Dark Horse: Askoy Brass


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