2008 European Brass Band Championships - Welcome to Stavanger


4BR looks forward to the 31st European Brass Band Championships and the delights of the open port of Stavanger.

EuropeanFor the fourth time in its history, the European Brass Band Championships will take place in Norway. 

On it’s previous three visits the event has been hosted by the city of Bergen (1989, 1996, 2003), but this year, Stavanger, located on a peninsula on the South West coast of the country, will host an event that will take place from the 27th April – 4th May.

Capital of Culture

2008 sees Stavanger as one of the two ‘European Capitals of Culture’ (with Liverpool) and so the European Brass Band Championships have been boosted in profile, as the area celebrates a year long programme of contemporary arts and cultural events based upon the theme of an ‘Open Port’ of artistic expression.

The city itself is the fourth largest in Norway and is the countries self proclaimed ‘Petroleum Capital’ – a bit like Aberdeen without the granite, wind and football team. Unlike Aberdeen it also benefits from pleasant summers and the longest growing season in the country at 220 days, although the local football team is by all accounts just as bad.

Saying that though, it is also twinned with those other well known oil producing mega cities of Houston and Galveston in Texas, Harlow in England, Massawa in Eritrea and Nablus in the Palestinian territories -  work that one out…

Herring capital

Put to the Sword: Stavanger offers real atmosphere 

Many years ago the city was the self proclaimed ‘Herring capital of Norway’, so the discovery of oil in 1966 in the North Sea not only made the place a whole lot richer, but undoubtedly made it a much less smelly place to visit too.  

The decision to award Stavanger the status as ‘European Capital of Culture’ was based on it what the EU noted was ‘…the stunning landscapes, the geographical location and other factors that would be strong pull-factors for artists and visitors alike, emphasising the quality aspects being almost more important than aspects of quantity.’

That perhaps sums a city and its surrounding area that makes up for its lack of (available building land is now at a premium here) with a mix of old and new, traditional and contemporary.

Traditional and contemporary

Examples of which can be found if you take the opportunity to look around Old Stavanger (Gamle Stavanger) which has a mix of those chocolate box wooden 18th and 19th century houses, as well as the lovely gothic Stavanger domkirke (St. Svithun’s Cathedral) which rather strangely was built by an English Bishop called Reinald. The open air market is also well worth a visit, as is Stavanger Museum. 

Stavanger Cathedral
Something traditional: Stavanger Cathedral

Stavanger University meanwhile houses students from all over the world, which means the nightlife can get a bit fruity – so watch out!

Those with the energy to brave the elements will find plenty to explore around Lysefjorden which is popular with hikers as well as the infamous 604 meter high Kjerabolten which is a favourite spot for those ‘base jumpers’ who enjoy leaping into infinity and beyond lie latter day Norwegian Buzz Lightyears. 

The Championships

As for the venue for the championships?

The Stavanger Concert Hall may look like a cross between a World War 2 Anderson Shelter and the Norwegian home or the Teletubbies, but it is a compact, modernistic building and auditorium that can house approximately 1100 people in considerable comfort and style.

Stavanger Hall
No teletubbies here? Stavanger Concert Hall provides the central musical venue

Inside it is set to provide a vibrant hub of contesting activity for what promises to be a series of enjoyable and appropriately combustive high octane contests.  Through the highly professional assistance and work of the Norwegian Band Federation, tickets are as much at a premium here as a full tank of  unleaded petrol back home, and after the rows of empty sets at last year’s event in Birmingham, this year we could well see ‘Finnes Ikke’ signs (Norwegian for ‘Full House’) on the auditorium doors. Glory be!


Between a rock and a hard place? Stavanger offers something a bit different too...

Congratulations should also go to the Norwegians for securing well over £60,000 worth of sponsorship from varying sources (including £5,000 for a top notch soloists for the Gala Concert – What? No whistler we hear you say?) and for celebrating their 90th anniversary of the setting up of the NBF. They really do know how to run a good event here.


There is a full list of all the events to take place this year at EBBA’s own website (.), but highlights will include the 4th European Conductors Competition, the final of which is on Thursday 1st May; the opening ceremony and championship set work on the Friday; the B Section and Own Choice Section on the Saturday, followed by the Gala Concert and results; the inclusion of the European Youth Band and the highly enjoyable Farewell Concert on the Sunday.

Lots and lots to enjoy then from a city that has worked immensely hard to raise its artistic and cultural profile, and which has embraced the European Brass Band Championships to its heart.

The Norwegian Band Federation has done a fantastic job in organising and running the event, which promises to be vibrant, colourful and very, very, exciting. You can’t ask for anything more than that despite the occasional whiff of smoked herrings and unleaded petrol…

Iwan Fox 

 For further details: www.stavanger2008.no


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