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2018 Norwegian National Championships
As it happened

All the action from the 2018 Norwegian National Championships — As it happened.

Saturday 10, 22:01:41

Results:

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The winners celebrate

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Two happy men from Eikanger!

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The top three prizes winners...

Elite Division:

Adjudicators:
Set Work: Stig Nordhagen, Hakon Berge, Per Kristian Svensen
Own Choice: Niels-Ole Bo Johansen, Jens T Larsen, Davur Juul Magnussen
Set Work/Own Choice = Total

1. Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby): 98/99 = 98.5
2. Manger Musikklag (Peter Sebastian Szilvay): 96.5/97 = 96.75
3. Stavanger Brass (Allan Withington): 95/96.5 = 95.75
4. Oslo Brass (Robert Solberg Nilsen): 96/93.5 = 94.75
5. Bjorsvik Brass (Andreas Hanson): 93/95.5 = 94.25
6. Tertnes Brass (Martin Winter): 94/94 = 94
7. Jaren Hornmusikkforening (Florent Didier): 91/94.5 = 92.75
8. Molde Brass (Russell Gray): 92.5/92.5 = 92.5
9. Krohnengen (Prof Nicholas Childs): 92/92 = 92
10. Kleppe Musikklag (Philip Hannevik): 90/91 = 91.5

Soloist : Solo Cornet (Jaren Hornmusikkforening)

Best section: Trombones (Manger Musikklag)


Saturday 10, 22:01:09

Results:

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The prize winners

First Division:

Adjudicators: Katrina Marzella, Stig Nordhagen, Hakon Berge

1. Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn (Rune Gundersen) — 95.5
2. Oslofjord Brass (Rune Hannisdal) — 95
3. Ila Brass (Adam Cooke) — 94.5
4. Askoy Brass Band (Reid Gilje) — 94
5. Hasle Brass (Robert Solberg Nilsen) — 93
6. Radoy Brass (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen) 91.5
7. Sandefjord Brass Symposium (Chris Johnson) — 90
8. Flesland Musikklag (Thor-Arne Pedersen) — 89
9. Rong Brass (Erik Janssen) — 88.5
10. Brottum Brass (Ray Farr) — 88
11. Sola Brass Band (Garry Cutt) — 87
12. Tomra Brass Band (Stian E. Svendsen) — 86

Soloist: Solo Cornet (Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn)


Saturday 10, 22:00:40

Results:

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The top two prize winners

Second Division:

Adjudicators: Katrina Marzella, Elisabeth Fossan

1. Oster Brass (Eirik Gjerdevik) — 94
2. Tertnes Amatorkorps (Tormod Flaten) — 92
3. Manger Old Star Brass (Marit Tommermo) — 91.5
4. Sorum Musikklag (Ray Farr) — 90
5. Alexander Brass Band (Morten E Hansen) — 89
6. Jolster Musikklag (Arvid Anthun) — 88
7. Tysnes Musikklag (Yngve Nikolaisen) — 86
8. Sagvag Musikklag (Yngve Nikolaisen) — 85
9. Haukas Musikklag (Jan Egil Jorgensen) — 84
10. Orskog Brass (Jonathan Bates) — 83
11. Gjovik Bybrass (Christian Tenfjord) — 82
12. Agder Brass (Thomas Swatland) — 81
13. Tromso Brass (Geir Davidsen) — 80

Soloist: Cornet (Sagvag Musikklag)
Section: Trombone (Alexander Brass Band)


Saturday 10, 21:59:38

Results:

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The prize winners

Third Division:

Adjudicators: Niels-Ole Bo Johansen, Jens T Larsen

1. Fjell Brass (Joseph Cook) — 96
2. Stangaland Brass (Melvin White) — 95
3. Folleso Musikklag (Jacob Vilhelm Larsen) — 94
4. Laksevag Musikkforening (Fredrick Schjelderup) — 93
5. Nes Musikkforening (Thorbjorn Lunde) — 91
6. Lindas Brass (Hilde Brevik Grytten) — 90
7. Bjorvika Brass Band (Robert Solberg Nilsen) — 89
8. Bergen Brass Band (Thor-Arne Pedersen) — 88
9. Trondheim Politis Brassband (Espen Andersen) — 87
10. Gjesdal Brass Band (Jonas Skartveit Rogne) — 86
11. Skui Brassband (Thor-Willy Karlsen) — 85
12. Valdres Brass (Thorgeir Thunestvedt) — 84
13. Floro Hornmusikk (Torgeir Halvorsen) — 83
14. Fraena Musikkorps (Randi Anita Dale) — 82

Soloist: Tuba (Bjorvika Brass Band)
Section: Cornets (Fjell Brass)


Saturday 10, 21:58:52

Results:

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The winners

Fourth Division:

Adjudicators: Bjorn Bus, Elisabeth Fossan

1. Stavanger Kommunes Korps (Gwyn Evans) — 94
2. Krohnengen Old Stars (Oyvind Raknes Nikolaisen) — 93
3. Kjolsdalen Musikklag (Arvid Anthun) — 92
4. Filadelfia Hornorkester Drammen (Pal Andre G Worren) — 91
5. Lyshornet Brass (Oyvind Raknes Nikolaisen) — 90
6. Tysvaer Brass (Paul Hughes) — 89
7. Moen Musikkforening (Ole Kristian Egge) — 88
8. Hetlevik Musikklag (Patrik Randefalk) — 87
9. Flora-Bremanger Brassband (Johnny Saelemyr) — 86.5
10. Sotra Brass (Ben Hirons) — 86
11. Fla Musikkorps (Odd Steinar Morkved) — 85
12. Brumunddal Brass (Per Kristian O Syversen) — 84
13. Indre Torungen Brass Ensemble (Lars Bjornar Strengenes) — 83
14. Langhus Brass (Tomas Austestad) — 82
15. Holmestrand Ungdomskorps (Arild Ovrum) — 80

Soloist: Solo Horn (Lyshornet Brass)


Saturday 10, 21:58:00

Results:

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Fifth Division:

Adjudicators: Bjorn Bus, Davur Juul Magnussen

1. Randaberg Musikkorps (Pal Magne Austernes-Underhaug) — 94.5
2. Frei Hornmusikk (Jens Kristian Mordal) — 92
3. Rosendal Musikklag (Yngve Nikolaisen) — 91
4. Grenland Brass (Tommy Sorby) — 90
5. Lismarka/Mesnali Brass (Andres Halla) — 89
6. Norheimsund Musikklag (Patrik Randefalk) — 88
7. Saksumdal Musikkforening (Andres Halla) — 87
8. Skeie Brass (Nigel Fielding) — 86
9. IMI Brass (Per-Erik Petersen) — 85
10. Lillehammer Brass (Jon Kristian Solberg) — 83
11. Heroy Brass (Kjellstein Knotten) — 82
12. Alvik Musikklag (Torbjorn Dagestad Jnr) — 91

Soloist: Flugel Horn (Randaberg Musikkorps)
Section: Cornets: (Rosendal Musikklag)


Saturday 10, 20:39:49

Elite Division:

Chris Thomas: Own Choice round up:

It's been quite a contest in the Elite Section today with several bands upping their games markedly from yesterday's set test leg.

Top of the pile however were two performances that in their differing ways, gave us something very, very special indeed.

Manger's Raveling, Unraveling was magnificent in its sheer virtuosity and musical insight with Peter Sebastian Szilvay directing with almost demonic energy, whilst Eikanger's majestic, gloriously coloured Partita by Wilfred Heaton was shaped and moulded magnificently by Ingar Bergby.

Chris Thomas goes for an own choice top four of...

1. Eikanger Bjorsvik
2. Manger Musikklag
3. Stavanger
4. Krohnengen
Dark Horses: Kleppe Musikklag and Bjorsvik Brass

Chris Thomas Overall Prediction:

1. Eikanger Musikklag
2. Manger Musikklag
3. Stavanger
4. Bjorsvik Brass

4BR Editor's own-choice round up take...

We really have been spoilt rotten today with the quality of the playing — headed by two quite remarkable performances.

How on earth the judges can compare what they heard from both Eikanger and Manger today will take the wisdom of Solomon, but if pushed they may just give it by a point to Eikanger.

That may seem harsh on Manger — but we should count ourselves lucky that we got to hear not one, but two performances of such startling imagination and execution.

Stavanger's musicality but slightly flawed execution is third for us ahead of Krohnengen and a dark horse of Tertnes.

1. Eikanger Bjorsvik
2. Manger Musikklag
3. Stavanger
4. Krohnengen
Dark Horse: Tertnes

Overall Editor prediction

Such a hard one to call this as whoever misses out can count themselves very unlucky indeed.

Eikanger may just have done enough to overcome our half a point deficit to Manger yesterday with a single point lead today to give them the narrowest margin of victory.

To come second after playing like that seems particularly cruel.

Stavanger could well come a solid and well deserved third just ahead of a rejuvenated Krohnengen with Bjorsvik Brass and Tertnes just behind.

We'll see in a couple of hours...

Overall Editor's Prediction:

1. Eikanger Bjorsvik
2. Manger Musikklag
3. Stavanger
4. Krohnengen
5. Bjorsvik Brass
6. Tertnes


Saturday 10, 19:55:39

Elite Division:

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10. Oslo Brass (Robert Solberg Nilsen)

...Dove Descending (Philip Wilby)

The antiphonal cornet fanfares of the opening are effective and the spatially arranged trombones deliver with panache. The rhythmic clarity of what follows impresses and there is a presence about this that allows the tension to build with a latent sense of cumulative energy.

The central 'Nativity' is sensitively done with solo euphonium delivering his melodic line over a background of birdsong competently and the ensuing lyricism unfolds delicately from finely shaped cornet and soprano solos. There are one or two minor slips as the movement progresses but the musical picture remains intact.

The cornet fanfares of the finale are once again projected with controlled power and as the tread takes us to the final blazing chord this has been an engagingly conveyed account from Oslo with a beautifully warm musical heart at its centre.

4BR Editor's take...

A performance that rather summed up a very fine day of music making — and a fresh and thoroughly engaging approach to a work that not so long ago seemed exhausted of inspiration to bands.

Finely balanced approach of technique and musicality on show here from start to finish that led to a performance of insight and substance.

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Saturday 10, 19:25:39

Elite Division:

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9. Jaren Hornmusikkforening (Florent Didier)

Journey of the Lone Wolf (Simon Dobson)

The opening is viscerally powerful and once again, we sense the pressure of yesterday having been lifted as Florent Didier drives the performance onward with his customary attention to detail. The Balkan dance is so well shaped and the majority of the detail, notably in the cornets, is projected with clarity.

A fine flugel solo is floated confidently over the band but the ensuing trombone isn't quite able to match the same level of comfort and security. This is drawing us in so much more than the band's performance yesterday did though.

The loneliness and solitude of the slow music is conveyed well with secure euphonium and solo cornet leading the way. There's a frenetic energy to what follows but the MD builds this so well to a driving, adrenalin fuelled close that caps a highly committed effort from Jaren.

4BR Editor's take...

A performance rich in character, feral intensity and cold melancholy. The MD shone a light on the troubled soul of a highly complex man — warts and all.

That also came out in the playing, but still what an engrossing portrait it was. That final descent into the abyss and the lonely reckoning with a pitiful gathering of graveside friends was splendidly done.

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Saturday 10, 18:55:34

Elite Division:

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8. Molde Brass (Russell Gray)

Music of the Spheres (Philip Sparke)

The opening is effective and the first impression is that the shackles of yesterday's set test have been lifted from Molde's shoulders. There's a sense of momentum that propels us onto our orbital path although there are also occasional fragilities as we hurtle onwards on our journey.

This is commanding stuff though and that sense of the unshackled pervades as the band's performance elevates itself to a higher level from yesterday.

The triumphant close is captured in bold but balanced sounds and builds up a fine head of steam as Russell Gray paces the excitement of the close so well. This has certainly been a a performance that has upped Molde's game markedly from yesterday in invigorating fashion.

4BR Editor's take...

What an enjoyable ride into the heaven's this was — headed by Russell Gray in full James Tiberius Kirk mode.

A different band from yesterday — playing to their strengths and revelling in the MDs broad brush stroke approach to the musical cosmos. Super soloists and rich ensemble playing. Bravo — they made such a well known piece sound so fresh and enticing.

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Saturday 10, 18:24:52

Elite Division:

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7. Bjorsvik Brass (Andreas Hanson)

Revelation (Philip Wilby)

Bjorsvik's Revelation opens with bass sounds from the bowels of the earth and there's an immediate authority about this. There's such confidence in the individual parts and as soloists take to their feet all deliver with élan.

Andreas Hansen's understated gestures are often, on the face of it, at odds with the complexity of the music but in reality his grip on what we are hearing is vice like.

As we move into the slow movement there's a momentary lapse on flugel but the playing that follows is simply sublime with Martin Winter and Tormod Flaten singing their parts with captivating lyricism. This really is spellbinding.

In the wake of such tenderness the approach to the conclusion is delivered with a vigour and edge that really strikes home, with the sheer elation of the closing paragraphs blazing like a beacon in the Scandinavian darkness.

4BR Editor's take...

A performance of varied parts and variable excellence from Bjorsvik. At times it was stunning, at others rather scruffy and a little fragile: both fantastic and fallible.

The scope of the intentions were obvious (with a touching core of flowing beauty) and it did have an epic trajectory — although one that took an occasionally beaten path to salvation at the calling of time.

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Saturday 10, 17:44:01

Elite Division:

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6. Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)

Partita (Wilfred Heaton)

There's a gravitas about the opening that immediately demands attention, an urgency that drives us through the opening bars until Gyda Matland's haunting flugel tones precede Lode Violet's beautifully intoned cornet solo. Trombones are magnificent over the slow tread of basses and fabulous soprano to close the opening movement.

The Waltonesque progress of the second movement is imbued with so much character and the control is exceptional. Everything just sounds so completely natural with Eb bass solo exceptional and the changes of mood and colour all captured with scrupulous clarity and nuance whilst the acerbic ending is despatched with surgical precision.

You can hear a pin drop in the hall now as the slow movement unfolds. It's expressed in burnished autumnal colours of bronze and ochres underpinned by such depth of emotion and a dark, lyrical intensity that pervades throughout. It's impossible to single out individual players here. This is a stunning demonstration of collective band playing and the final climax and ultimate resolution to the major key sends a shiver down the spine.

Th stark contrast of the opening of the Finale with its echoes of the opening two movements is so striking and the clarity and sheer precision of the ensemble playing is magnificent. There's a glowing warmth at the heart of the movement laced with just a hint of Heaton austerity and Bergby is masterful in finding the structural cohesion that underpins everything.

And what an ending! Simply stunning stuff.

4BR Editor's take...

A truly epic performance of such insight and understanding from the MD and the band. This was playing of the rarest, deeply resonant musicality.

The subtleties in the textures, the tempo changes, style and colouring of the ensemble tonality was breathtaking — as was the space given to allow the artistry of the solo lines. Heaton surely could not have wished for his music to be played better — and neither could the audience lucky enough to hear it.

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Saturday 10, 17:23:45

Elite Division:

Chris Thomas half time thoughts...

Wowee!!! What a first half we have been treated to in the Grieghalle with a packed concert hall responding with almost manic enthusiasm to five terrific performances.

There was one however that was something truly special. Manger and Peter Sebastian Szilvay gave us performance of Philip Sparke's 'Raveling, Unraveling' that had everything. It's impossible to imagine anyone drawing more from the score than Szilvay did here — it was playing of stunning virtuosity.

Chris Thomas goes for a half time top three of:

1. Manger Musikklag
2. Stavanger
3. Krohnengen

4BR Editor's take...

Well that has been some half of own choice playing.

Not a lot to add what has been said. Manger was stunning, Stavanger so musical but just flawed and Krohnengen inspired by their MD.

That is some top three with more to come...

1. Manger Musikklag
2. Stavanger
3. Krohnengen


Saturday 10, 16:51:18

Elite Division:

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5. Tertnes Brass (Martin Winter)

As if a voice where in them... (Oliver Waespi)

What a fine opening. The band immediately creates a haunting atmosphere and as the mood changes what a fabulous sound and style from soprano cornet. It just dances with such delicacy and grace.

The pace quickens and theres an inner drive about this but we sense that everything is being kept under tight control by Martin Winter. The ensemble is just a tad untidy at times but everything is shaped and moulded so well. Just a hint of strain on the euphonium as we enter the slow section but this unfolds well and flugel sings as does soprano once again.

The cornet section rises to its feet and the antiphonal element is finely balanced here. Great inner work from euphs and baritones and we hear the detail down through the band. And now we sense the pacing as the energy builds to the final adrenalin fuelled conclusion. Fine playing from Tertnes and so intelligently directed.

4BR Editor's take...

A fine choice given an equally fine performance — aided by the MD giving the music the chance to breath that richly oxygenated mountain pass air.

There was an authentic stamp of class about this (esp the sop) with the ensemble playing so closely knitted together. The majestic close with the standing choirs worked a treat to round off a performance of such resonant quality.


Saturday 10, 16:23:29

Elite Division:

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4. Krohnengen (Prof Nicholas Childs)

Extreme Makeover (Johan de Meij)

Nicely shaped solo cornet to open and this is nicely balanced if lacking a touch of emotional warmth. Tuning wavers momentarily as the ensuing passage opens but it settles and there are big boned sounds to follow that drive us into the next passage of Tchaikovsky. Basses not immediately together but again it recovers and now this really seems to find a new seam of energy and inspiration.

There's no loss of bottle here that's for sure although it can just tend to stray to stridency at times. And talking of bottles!! The cornet section put their bottle to the test and pass with aplomb as does the marimba soloist. And with a hint of Stravinsky (or is it John Williams' Jaws?) we drive on into the final section.

Solo horn stumbles slightly but this is now building with impressive cumulative power that is almost manic in its drive until the majestic final peroration hits between the eyes in a blazing conclusion.

4BR Editor's take...

The second of two very impressive performances over the two days by the band — thoroughly inspired by the MD who gave them everything they needed to excel.

Some moments of unease, but the power, drama, rich colours, subtle textures, superb individual lines (fantastic marimba — with the MD after the performance) and tension almost stopped the blood supply to your brain. Bravo.

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Saturday 10, 15:54:20

Elite Division:

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3. Manger Musikklag (Peter Sebastian Szilvay)

Raveling, Unraveling: In search of La Valse (Philip Sparke)

Peter Sebastian-Szilvay acknowledges the applause and then turns to launch the band straight into an opening that drives on like a steam train. The passages that follow take us into subterranean bass depths and as the fleeting little inflections and hints of La Valse start to merge through the textures we can see the players interacting with each other. This is so so stylish.

Szilvay is like a man possessed. At one moment so lucidly expressive with his hands and then almost leaping off the stage as he draws every last ounce of commitment and concentration from his players. He really is quite something to watch.

The dynamic contrasts are so impressive and the detail and energy take the breath away. We can sense the absorption of the audience in the performance.

What we are really sensing here is Ravel not Philip Sparke. Szilvay is a man that knows the piece that inspired Philip Sparke inside out and it shows. Every note and phrase is made to tell in the most extraordinary of ways. And the ending…oh my….this has been a very special performance indeed. Remarkable playing under a remarkable conductor.

4BR Editor's take...

Flipping heck. What a performance — built on an interpretation that grabbed you by the throat from the word go and wrung the life out of the score with such wit, invention and sheer joie-de-vivre ballsiness.

Odd moments or two, but who cared? What fantastical music making — it was like Peter Silvay had let some of those fabulous birds out of a cage from yesterday to have a night on the tiles in Vienna. Oh this was quite wizardly brilliant.

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Saturday 10, 15:18:58

Elite Division:

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2. Stavanger Brass (Allan Withington)

Goldberg 2012 (Svein H. Giske)

The beguiling colours and gently shifting textural nuances of the opening are beautifully done with subtle touches from the percussion section that are so effective. And as the pace is upped, so is the clarity. We hear so much detail with ensemble generally taut and secure other than the tiniest clips as the notes fly by.

Lovely solo contributions in the quiet passages that follow and darkly threatening interjections from bass trombone. Suddenly the bass groove kicks in with rhythmic solidity and after an affecting fleeting pause for reflection the groove takes over once again with soprano and bass trombone excelling.

The luminous sounds that follow are beautifully done although euphonium momentarily hesitates. Lovely solo cornet and soprano (sop has been on top form throughout) but then there are again tiny little slips that although minor, fleetingly unsettle the atmosphere.

Great cohesion between 'bones and cornets in the funk that follows and this is now driving on with so much purpose and momentum. The conclusion brings the house down.

A performance of striking presence and at times grandeur from Stavanger although there were also frustrating little slips at several key moments.

4BR Editor's take...

A 'Goldberg' of visceral intensity beating with such a musical heart. There were moments when the Bach veneer was scratched but what a pulsating interpretation.

The sense of loss in the central section was achingly tragic in its beauty and the Brekker Brothers homage was a study in funkmeister swagger. What a ferocious close too. Just those moments of unease may cost them today you feel.

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Saturday 10, 14:44:25

Elite Division:

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1. Kleppe Musikklag (Philip Hannevik)

Journey of the Lone Wolf (Simon Dobson)

MD Philip Hannevik takes to the stage minus score…this piece is no mean feat to conduct from memory…but the freedom it gives him is evident as he paces his space in front of the band.

The opening hits home and there's a great style to the gypsy dance rhythms. The louder dynamics are huge but there's just an early hint that a little more risk could be taken with the lower dynamic levels.

The flugel soloist rises to her feet and this is authoritative playing; initially haunting but also bold and confident. Trombone isn't 100% fluent and the slow movement that follows is secure but perhaps just lacks that elusive feeling of solitude and painful loneliness.

The wild dance goes for the jugular, boy this is brutish stuff and its certainly impressive in its sheer drive and cumulative energy even if the ensemble could be that tiny bit tighter.

The conclusion is crushingly powerful and caps an account of raw, unbridled intensity and drive.

4BR Editor's take...

An effective account this — led by a conductor who certainly looked for the troubling soul of Bartok. Rich, dramatic and choreographed with a touch of emotional artistry too.

Odd bits didn't quite work, such as the opaque jazz interlude, but the final stare into the abyss was a cold sliver of the lonely death that awaits us all.

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Saturday 10, 14:36:27

Elite Division:

Adjudicators: Niels-Ole Bo Johansen, Jens T Larsen, Davuur Juul Magnussen

Own Choice: (Draw)

1. Kleppe Musikklag (Philip Hannevik)
Journey of the Lone Wolf (Simon Dobson)
2. Stavanger Brass (Allan Withington)
Goldberg 2012 (Svein H. Giske)
3. Manger Musikklag (Peter Sebastian Szilvay)
Raveling, Unraveling: In search of La Valse (Philip Sparke)
4. Krohnengen (Prof Nicholas Childs)
Extreme Makeover (Johan de Meij)
5. Tertnes Brass (Martin Winter)
As if a voice where in them... (Oliver Waespi)
6. Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)
Partita (Wilfred Heaton)
7. Bjorsvik Brass (Andreas Hanson)
Revelation (Philip Wilby)
8. Molde Brass (Russell Gray)
Music of the Spheres (Philip Sparke)
9. Jaren Hornmusikkforening (Florent Didier)
Journey of the Lone Wolf (Simon Dobson)
10. Oslo Brass (Robert Solberg Nilsen)
...Dove Descending (Philip Wilby)


Saturday 10, 14:29:11

First Division:

A Norse Finale...

It's been a fascinating morning in the First Division, concluding with a tub-thumping performance by Sandefjord Brass Symposium of MD Chris Johnson's 'Noatun', a piece rooted in Norse mythology and composed by an adopted Viking.

The strongest performances possibly came in the first half of the draw with several bands delivering highly detailed, viscerally exciting performances that really succeeded in capturing both ours and the audience's musical imagination.

With such a huge variety of music on offer it could be a close call for the top three places with Chris Thimas going for:

Chris Thomas Top 3:

1. Ila Brass Band
2. Askoy Brass Band
3. Rong Brass
Dark Horses: Sola Brass Band and Radoy Brass.

4BR Editor's Top 3:

1. Askoy Brass
2. Ila Brass
3. Rong Brass
Dark Horse: Sandefjord and Gjallarhorn


Saturday 10, 13:38:50

First Section:

History repeats itself every now and again...

There have been some quite stark changes in musical tastes in Norwegian contesting over the years — so it's nice to see the return of some 'classic' works from the pens of composers who made their mark on the movement some years ago.

Edward Gregson is enjoying a real revival this year — with 'Dances & Arias', 'Connotations' and 'The Plantagenets' heard alongside his more recent 'Of Distant Memories'. Philip Wilby has also returned after a few years in the wilderness. A decade ago everyone was playing 'Revelation', 'Masquerade' or 'Vienna Nights'.

Oddly though, Percy Fletcher's 'Labour & Love' has been a standard in the lower sections since the championships started in 1979, although Eric Ball still seems to be viewed with deep suspicion — just two pieces played this year — and one of those 'Youth salutes a Master' was a bit of a mystery piece.

Messes Sparke and Graham still dominate but the once ubiquitous Thomas Doss seems to be suffering from a period in the doldrums...


Saturday 10, 12:57:32

First Division:

Contrasting images from history...

Well we have just had a trio of works I nspired by history, but played with a very modern outlook by Flesland Musikklag, Tomra Brass and Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn.

Flesland's 'Lowry Sketchbook' wasn't quite the completed portrait despite the excellence of many of the individual players, whilst Tomra's 'Paganini' was cursed with a few broken violin strings along the way.

When it came to passion though, Gjallarhorn had it bubbling by the Prosecco bucketful under Rune Gundersen. It's spilt over the glass a few times it must be said, but by heck it was music that came from the heart.

How will the judges like them though? The audience certainly did.


Saturday 10, 12:22:28

First Division:

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A touch of musical pragmatism at work with the occasional splash...

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this contest has been the choice of music from the competing bands.

Sometimes ambition has outstretched reality at this level — but not on this occasion. A little bit of that Norwegian pragmatism has come into play once more.

We have therefore been able to enjoy well directed performances of works that have certainly tested but not overstretched the bands. That said, there have been quite a few moments of unease, and few more splashes than old Kevin Keegan used to advertise (above) but that has been down to contest neves more than anything else.

It also means that you can readily identify the gap in quality between the Elite and First Division here — something that is not always the case in the UK.

A touch of pragmatism wouldn't go a miss in the UK when it comes to that...


Saturday 10, 11:13:04

First Division:

Sounds like half time...

We are at the half way point in the First Division contest and it's been an intriguing morning of own choice test pieces.

Brottum Brass gave us an atmospheric 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' under Ray Farr, with Ila Brass Band's West Side Story laced 'Metropolis 1927' featuring a host of quality soloists before the 'Sounds' of John Golland were given fine space and dynamism by Rong Brass Band under the expert guidance of Erik Janssen.

There's a good deal for the judges to think about here but Chris Thomas goes for a half way top three of Ila Brass Band, closely followed by Rong Brass and Askoy.

Chris Thomas Top 3:

1. Ila Brass
2. Rong Brass
3. Askoy


Saturday 10, 10:20:31

First Division:

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The inevitable pace of technological change...

The future is already being embraced in Norway with more and more players taking to the stage with tablets rather than sheet music.

You turn the pages with this one with a foot operated switch....


Saturday 10, 09:55:51

First Division:

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A ghetto blaster to help the journey to the centre of the earth....

An early morning journey from England to Hungary...

Three bands down in the First Division and we have already heard some great playing spanning Tudor England to the Balkans.

Radoy Brass's 'Tallis Variations' under Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen was so well shaped and balanced, whilst Askoy Brass's ambitious choice of Simon Dobson's 'Journey of the Lone Wolf' was delivered with bite and and aching solitude in the central movement — complete contrast to Sola's engaging account of 'English Heritage' under Garry Cutt.

Next up......we have 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' with Ray Farr and Brottum Brass.


Saturday 10, 09:39:49

First Division:

Big beast conductors...

Looking at the line up of conduct its on parade here in the First Division it seems the bands here are prepared to invest in major conducting talent from around Europe to try and claim a National title.

Garry Cutt, Ray Farr, Reid Gilje, Adam Cooke and Erik Janssen to name but a few in the first half of the contest.

It's like Cardiff City and Bolton Wanderers getting Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp in to try and get into the Premier League. Makes for fascinating watching and listening though...


Saturday 10, 08:46:04

Tune in and enjoy the action...

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The good news once more is that you can also follow the action for free at today at:
https:/­/­livestream.com/­nmf

Just follow the link and enjoy what we are enjoying here in Bergen...


Saturday 10, 08:37:58

First Division:

Comments by Chris Thomas

Saturday 10th February
Start: 8.30am
Own-Choice:
Adjudicators: Katrina Marzella, Stig Nordhagen, Hakon Berge

Draw Order:

1. Radoy Brass (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen)
Tallis Variations (Philip Sparke)
2. Askoy Brass Band (Reid Gilje)
Journey of the Lone Wolf (Simon Dobson)
3. Sola Brass Band (Garry Cutt)
English Heritage (George Lloyd)
4. Brottum Brass (Ray Farr)
Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Peter Graham)
5. Ila Brass (Adam Cooke)
Metropolis 1927 (Peter Graham)
6. Rong Brass (Erik Janssen)
Sounds (John Golland)
7. Flesland Musikklag (Thor-Arne Pedersen)
Lowry Sktechbook (Philip Wilby)
8. Tomra Brass Band (Stian E. Svendsen)
Paganini Variations (Philip Wilby)
9. Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn (Rune Gundersen)
Of Distant Memories (Edward Gregson)
10. Oslofjord Brass (Rune Hannisdal)
Sinfonietta No. 3 (Etienne Crausaz)
11. Hasle Brass (Robert Solberg Nilsen)
Dances and Arias (Edward Gregson)
12. Sandefjord Brass Symposium (Chris Johnson)
Noatun (Chris Johnson)


Saturday 10, 08:35:57

Good morning from Bergen...

Title deciders...

It's an early start here in the Grieghallen today with the first performance in the First Division just about to take place. It seems fitting that the man to conduct Radoy Brass is Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen who is wearing a quite splendid orange bow tie the size of a Peruvian fruit bat.

12 performances to enjoy with ambitious music on show — including a few pieces that wouldn't be out of place in the Elite Division...


Friday 9, 21:50:08

That's it for tonight...

It's been a long old day but a fascinating one nonetheless.

Great to hear the ambition and enthusiasm in the Second and Fifth Sections as well as the artistry and excellence in the Elite Division.

It's all to play for tomorrow though to see who will be crowned 2018 Champion — it was hard to even separate Manger and Eikanger today. Half a pint either way you feel.

Now though time for a pint and something to eat and a good night's rest.


Friday 9, 21:05:32

Elite Division: Halfway opinions:

Chris Thomas's Half Time Thoughts

We are at the half way point in the Elite section contest with the set test complete and the own choice to look forward to tomorrow.

Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen's Aubade 'Dawn Songs of the Fabulous Birds' has certainly proved to be a challenging test piece but has also given us plenty to discuss here in the Grieghalle in what could be a very close finish to the first leg of the contest.

The performances that lead the way succeeded in finding the musical expression and picture painting in the score whilst conquering what are the daunting technical demands made of both players and MD's alike, but for us there were only three performances that truly succeeded in coming close to bringing those elements together.

Chris Thomas goes for a top four of:

1. Manger Musikklag
2. Eikanger Bjorsvik
3. Stavanger
4. Bjorsvik Brass
Dark horse: Krohnengen

4BR Editor's halfway opinion

An engrossing first half of competition saw two exceptional performances emerge — but also two that were almost diametrically conceived and executed.

Manger was the stuff of a fevered musical imagination, Eikanger's one that almost paid homage to the likes of Messiaen.

Both were stunningly played with wonderful touches of individualism anchored to ensemble playing of richness and character. It may just be down to a question of very personal taste about the nature of 'fabulousness' in the box.

As we say in Wales — you would be hard pressed to place a sheet of Bronco paper between them (and that is very, very thin indeed)

Just behind for me came Stavanger's dark and menacing approach that would have done Hitchcock proud, whilst Bjorsvik's individualism may just pip the concerted effort of Krohnengen.

After that it's anyone's bird in the hand....

4BR Editor's midway prediction

1. Manger Musikklag
2. Eikanger Bjorsvik
3. Stavanger
4. Bjorsvik
Dark Horse: Krohnengen


Friday 9, 20:28:31

Elite Division:

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10. Oslo Brass (Robert Solberg Nilsen)

Solo baritone is a touch uncomfortable to open but as the early stages of the performance unfold, the band clearly tries to find the textural and coloristic contrasts of the score, even if the ensemble isn't always crystal clear.

Big dynamic contrasts abound and there are confident individual contributions, notably from euphonium, with the band striving to create atmosphere and paint the pictures the music evokes. This is achieved with considerable success at times although not without occasional lapses.

The faster music drives on with purpose and the ending is effective concluding a well thought out performance.

A workmanlike, competent account from Oslo and one of musical intent even if not always entirely consistent in technical execution.

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Friday 9, 20:03:34

Elite Division:

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9. Molde Brass (Russell Gray)

A brave opening baritone solo doesn't quite sit entirely comfortably and that initial insecurity unsettles the early paragraphs of the performance.

Russell Gray directs with his customary clarity and authority and the band projects the dynamic contrasts to effect, but as the creatures awake the clarity of detail and ensemble is not always tight or consistent.

As a result the pictures don't leap out at us through the textures and the musical story lacks the continuity and range of the finest today.

Moments of quality but the technical challenges of the score served to impede the overall musical picture for Molde.

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Friday 9, 19:29:30

Elite Division:

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8. Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)

There's a potent mix of expression and projection about the opening baritone solo although its not without a whiff of fragility. What follows however immediately evokes birds of the most fantastical appearance in its sound world of darkness and eerie textural picture painting.

As the mythical creatures and beasts are brought to life those colours and textures are at the heart of what Ingar Bergby is bringing to this performance, as he succeeds in wrenching playing of violent, sonically powerful range that is able to mutate and morph into the strangest of mythical beings.

Fine solo euphonium and the detail evident through the individual cornet parts is striking at its best in its transparency and clarity.

When the band is unleashed by the MD the drama is impressive but there's a nagging feeling that for all its quality and technical command, this isn't quite finding the sheer electricity of Manger's performance earlier in the contest.

As we approach the concluding bars the technique and use of textures once again impresses although the ending isn't quite as tight as it could be.

A fine performance from Eikanger but was it enough to take top honours this evening? Manger could have something to say about that.

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Friday 9, 18:57:57

Elite Division:

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7. Jaren Hornmusikkforening (Florent Didier)

Jaren's opening baritone solo is one of bold, brazen presence……this is a no holds barred opening of intent and as the creatures awaken the contrasts of dynamic are emphasised to the extreme. Florent Didier's conducting style melds clarity with expression although the ensemble isn't always absolutely pristine.

This isn't quite drawing us in as the front runners so far have though and we miss the darkness and underlying menace that is needed to grip us throughout.

There are occasional fleeting insecurities in individual contributions that momentarily impede progress and whilst the commitment is evident, the musical imagery is limited in terms of its scope.

As we approach the close the textures and colours in the quieter passages are brought to the surface with aplomb but the ending is a touch underwhelming.

A brave effort by Jaren but one that was ultimately limited in its technical scope and range.

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Friday 9, 18:32:19

Elite Division:

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6. Bjorsvik Brass (Andreas Hanson)

The opening baritone solo has terrific control and presence with Andreas Hansen allowing admirable flexibility and pliability of the musical line, his gestures so expressive. And that expressiveness comes through in the playing as this immediately makes its mark as an account of striking musicality.

Some of the sounds are almost subterranean in their breadth, as if the creatures are awakening from the very depths of the earth and yet nothing is forced here, which makes the climaxes all the more telling in their gravity.

Fabulous playing from Tormod Flaten on euphonium and the atmospheres are so well shaped, mirroring the fluidity of the MD's gestures once again. This is one of those performances that draws us in through its sheer presence and twilit, eerie sound world.

Ultimately however, the musicality is achieved partly through technical mastery and although there are moments where the ensemble doesn't quite gel, there is no shortage of detail as the individual cornet lines are projected with clarity.

A deeply musical account from Bjorsvik Brass, directed with such intelligence by Andreas Hansen. So many colours and textures to conjure with and playing of stylistic awareness and insight.

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Friday 9, 18:07:49

Elite Division:

4BR Editor's opinion: Birds of different feathers...

Chris Thomas has been covering the contest for 4BR and has really enjoyed every moment, whilst the 4BR Editor has been doing the tweets.

As for the Editor's opinion?

Halfway through the set-work discipline and we have already been royally treated. The interpretations have been so engaging in their different ways from each of the MDs — all searching for the magical and imaginative. Bravo to them all.

Two stand out though — with Manger giving a display that was touched by something surreal under Peter Silvay. His was an aviary full to the brim with amazing flying creations.

Stavanger went for the darkness — and superbly realised music making that wouldn't have been out of place in the famous Alfred Hitchcock film, whilst Krohnengen's was almost a domesticated take — with the Griffins and dragons tethered to their master's arm. It was very good playing though.

4BR Editor's mid way top 3:

1. Manger Musikklag
2. Stavanger
3. Krohnengen

Chris Thomas top 3:

1. Manger Musikklag
2. Stavanger
3. Krohnengen


Friday 9, 17:32:04

Elite Division:

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5. Manger Musikklag (Peter Sebastian Szilvay)

There's a wonderfully ringing, sonorous sound to the opening baritone solo with the soloist committing herself totally to what is a nerve shredding, exposed opening.

And as the performance progresses it becomes clear that this is an individual take on the music by Peter Sebastian Szilvay in the very best way. We hear creatures and demons emerging from the textures with startling, at times nightmarish qualities, yet alongside this there are moments of dark repose, a repose that is often broken by cackling, in this case, clearly malicious birds and beasts of fantastical appearance.

What a trombone section! The section appears to occupy its own, mythical sound world!

There is so much drama about this that emanates from the middle as the MD shapes and cajoles the textures and colours from his players, always with gestural clarity but also with sheer physical engagement. And there is so much detail heard, notably from the middle of the band as the players show themselves to be in complete technical control.

There are times when we hear sounds that are different to anything else we've heard so far today and the ending is dictated with such clarity.

Playing that oozed drama and dark, unbridled power from Manger. So impressive in its detail and utterly gripping from the opening bar.

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Friday 9, 16:56:15

Elite Division:

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4. Tertnes Brass (Martin Winter)

A fine opening baritone solo sets the scene well and as the creatures are released form their slumbers we sense Martin Winter and the band striving to find the textures and colours that are so crucial to the music.

The transparency of detail through the band is sometimes not as clear as some so far but the pictures painted evoke the mythical beasts and creatures that inhabited the composer's mind with impressive and its best, startling musical imagery.

Individual entries are all well despatched but we miss a certain lightness of touch and delicacy in some of the score's more inwards moments. Once again though as we progress towards the conclusion there is huge power and drama in the music's violent climaxes.

From the start, Tertnes's performance of Aubade sought to create atmosphere and paint pictures with the music although occasionally that clarity and transparency of detail was lacking.

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Friday 9, 16:27:42

Elite Division:

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3. Krohnengen (Prof Nicholas Childs)

The opening baritone solo is just a little cautious perhaps. The clarity of detail that follows is impressive although the atmosphere doesn't quite grasp our attention in the way that Stavanger did.

The clarity of Nicholas Childs direction is clearly beneficial here as the band responds with playing of both commitment and transparency with climaxes at their peak that are impressively powerful. It's difficult not to compare it with what went immediately before however as what we miss is the darkness and eerie, crepuscular atmospheres that can be created from the abundant textural opportunities the score provides.

Yet it remains nonetheless a reading of power and edge as it steers a convincing, structured course to its conclusion.

Krohnengen's was another performance that amply demonstrated Norwegian banding's comfort with this repertoire. Impressive detail and commitment throughout.

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Friday 9, 16:04:11

Elite Division:

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2. Stavanger Brass (Allan Withington)

Immediately there's a different sound world evoked by Stavanger to the previous performance. This is more sonorous, lighter in its textures and with a greater accent on the mystery and twilit recesses of the composer's imagination.

But the contrasts are simply humungous with gripping use of dynamic and dynamics at the upper end of the spectrum that are used to telling effect. When they come, they pin us back in our seats.

As the creatures awake those magical qualities that were there from the start really begin to emerge and at times there is an almost sensual quality about the playing in its quite moments, yet contrasted with passages of wrenching dissonant violence and motifs that jump from the textures with Messiaen like qualities. Theres also some magnificent individual playing on display from euphonium and the trombone section.

The music that precedes the ending is played with such lightness and delicacy of touch whilst the ending itself is like one last cry of defiance as the creatures subside back into darkness.

A performance imbued with insight and understanding from Stavanger that painted vivid, powerfully visual pictures. This gripped us from the very opening sounds.

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Friday 9, 15:30:23

Elite Division:

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1. Kleppe Musikklag (Philip Hannevik)

There's an almost raucous, cackling quality about the opening baritone solo. Kleppe's seagulls are are aggressive in their playfulness. But this has certainly stamped a mark on the performance immediately with all manner of creates being stirred from their slumbers.

Philip Hannevik is an elegant conductor yet directs with clarity and a noticeable absence of histrionics…vital qualities in music of this complexity.

There's certainly latent power in this. Maybe there's a just a touch of transparency missing from the detail at times but as it progresses we sense the untold story unfolding with vividly coloured textures and eerie, other worldly colours leading to an enigmatic muted conclusion.

A convincing opening account from Kleppe and one that has immediately captured the imagination.

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Friday 9, 15:14:57

Elite Division:

Draw:

Friday 9th February
Start: 3.30pm
Set-Work: Aubade (Dawn Songs of the Fabulous Birds) (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen)
Adjudicators: Stig Nordhagen, Hakon Berge, Per Kristian Svensen

1. Kleppe Musikklag (Philip Hannevik)
2. Stavanger Brass (Allan Withington)
3. Krohnengen (Prof Nicholas Childs)
4. Tertnes Brass (Martin Winter)
5. Manger Musikklag (Peter Sebastian Szilvay)
6. Bjorsvik Brass (Andreas Hanson)
7. Jaren Hornmusikkforening (Florent Didier)
8. Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)
9. Molde Brass (Russell Gray)
10. Oslo Brass (Robert Solberg Nilsen)


Friday 9, 14:55:13

Elite Division: Starts: 3.30pm (local time)


4BR talks to composer Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen

Aubade — Dawn Songs of the Fabulous Birds (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen)

'Aubade — Dawn Song of the Fabulous Birds' was commissioned by the Norwegian Band Federation in 2003 for the European Brass Band Championships held in Bergen.

Composers have always been fascinated by birdsong — from Respighi and Rautavaara to Elgar, Vaughan-Williams and the undoubted master, Olivier Messiaen.

The results have been as varied as the different species that inspired them — from ascending larks to troublesome cuckoos.

For instance, the famous Hitchcock film, 'The Birds' saw composers Oskar Sala and Remi Gassman use the remarkable Trautonium monophonic electronic instrument to create the startling sounds of the demented avian killers.

Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen was fascinated from an early age — listening as he says, to seagulls 'having a party' outside his family home at 4.30am in the morning.

His is a work of both the fabulous and the fantastical — the birds in question being those of his and others imagination; from Griffins and dragons to the much lamented dodo. It is a composition of legend and myth, creatures of the early dawn waking from their magical slumber.

In the words of the composer, 'Aubade' '...follows its own rules' — the 15 minute work developing organically rather than with prescribed structure.

The creativity comes from a sound palette of rich diversity and complexity — from the opening baritone cadenza through emerging melodies, motifs, rhythmic structures and cadences, variations and variables of different textures, depths and colours.

It's like wondering what the sound would have been to accompany Heironymous Bosch's 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' mixed with the bird table in the back yard of Carmen Miranda.

It's wonderful inventive writing; the complex detail of which, as well as the way in which it must seamlessly fit together, such a demanding task for players and conductors alike.

It's a work that is truly fabulous from dawn till dusk.


Friday 9, 14:52:35

Second and Fifth Divisions:

Tasty aperitifs...

We have enjoyed two contrasting sections of playing here at the Grieghallen today — and they have been the perfect musical aperitif for what is to come.

Some fine choices made and plenty of good playing to compliment the obvious enthusiasm of the bands. The best stood out so don't be surprised if the likes of Sorum, Tertnes Amatorkorps and Orskog may feature in the Second Section whilst it's anyone's game in the Fifth Division with Lismarka, Heroy and Skeie in with a shout.

It's been great though, so congrats to everyone.


Friday 9, 14:35:59

Second Section:

From Lancaster to Vienna.....

A connection not as tenuous as it might sound as we hear a performance of Gregson's The Plantagenets from Tysnes Musikklag brimming with contrasts alongside the classical elegance, charm and gentle wit of Austrian born Joseph Horovitz's sparkling Ballet for Band from Jolster Musikklag as we conclude the Second Section contest in the Grieghalle.

And a great contest it has been......laced with so much variety, musical vigour and commitment. Well done to all bands for what has been sheer entertainment as well as competitive spirit.


Friday 9, 14:12:17

Second Section:

Interesting takes...

It's been interesting to both see and hear the approaches taken here by the conductors on well known works.

There is always plenty of energy to the playing, with tempos on the top end of things even in slow passages. Rubato is tempered. The MDs don't really wish to wallow in the lyrical aspects of the music.


Friday 9, 13:34:16

More thoughts on the action...

Iwan Fox and Chris Thomas discuss a few more of the performances from the Second and Fifth Sections that have taken place so far at the Grieghallen...


Friday 9, 13:28:10

Second Section:

It's blooming marvellous......

The final third of the Second Division is underway with Morten Hansen and Alexander Brass Band trawling the annuls of European Championship history with Gareth Wood's 1992 European set test 'Five Blooms in a Welsh Garden'......just as well that Bergen and Cardiff share similarly wet climates then!!!!


Friday 9, 13:01:02

Second Section:

From shifting sands to shifting time...

We are heading into the second comfort break in the Grieghalle with Haukas Musikklag hitting the spot with The Mummy meets Jack Sparrow in Bertrand Moren's 'The Son of Light' and a journey into the depths of time with Thomas Doss's 'Time Machine'....both delivered with more than a touch of Norwegian energy.


Friday 9, 12:33:25

Fifth Division:

Tasty liquorice all-sorts

Well this has been a Bertie Bassett bag of delights in the Peer Gynt hall. You can dip in and enjoy everything from Aztec culture to a triptych of Cornish saints via a modern day bit of thumping funk and now a homage to Ludwig van Beethoven.

It's been brill — and the Eric Ball work is as bizarre as it is beautifully put together. Somehow he manages to quote and develop variations from his '5th Symphony' to 'The Creation' via his second 'Piano Sonata' without missing a step. All this 'Labour and Love' and more to come.

No wonder everyone has a smile on their faces here...


Friday 9, 12:24:32

Second Section:

Gregson the conqueror.......

Edward Gregson is certainly popular this morning. With seven bands down we've already heard two Dances and Arias, a Connotations from Manger Old Stars and The Plantagenets yet to come from Tysnes Musikklag. Gregson's music still takes some playing though, 41 years on from Black Dyke winning the GB National Championship on Connotatons in 1977!!!


Friday 9, 12:02:56

Initial impressions...

Iwan Fox and Chris Thomas discuss a few of the early impressions that have been made at this year's Norwegian Championships.


Friday 9, 11:23:23

Second Section:

The essence of Norwegian banding...

Tertnes Amatorkorps and Tormod Flaten are giving us a spirited Essence of Time...and once again it's that spirit and commitment that is the essence and key ingredient in all of the performances we've heard so far this morning.


Friday 9, 10:55:57

Second Section:

Tromso Brass are giving us a gutsy, impressively detailed account of Paul Lovatt-Cooper's Equalibrium in the Grieghalle.........a great band sound too and after just four bands this is already building into a fascinating contest with so much musical variety on display.


Friday 9, 10:50:26

Fifth Division:

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Rosendal get ready for Fifth Division action

Ambition and fun...

They have been shooting through the bands in the Peer Gynt Hall with the first three done and dusted with music from Goff Richards ('Three Saints'), Dudley Bright ('To Serve and to Save') and Dean Goffin ('Rhapsody in Brass') played by Frei Hornmusikk, IMI Brass and Lillehammer Brass.

It's a great little hall to perform in and with open adjudication the complete talk a litte about the bands themselves and introduce a couple of the players. It's makes for a relaxed and fun filled atmosphere with no reduction in the level of serious competition.


Friday 9, 10:36:26

Second Division:

First three done and dusted...

Three bands have played and we have already had a taste of things to come this weekend — a trio of eclectic choices — from Gjovik Bybrass, Sagvag Musikklag and Orskog — with 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth', 'Dances & Arias' and 'The Raid' — each with their obvious strengths and weaknesses.

Lots to enjoy though from the spout up through the Stromboli volcano to a bit of cattle rustling in the Alps.


Friday 9, 10:03:03

Second Division:

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The early morning action comes from the Second Division where we have already enjoyed an enthusiastic performance of 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' by Gjovik Bybrass, and now we have Sagvag Musikklag with 'Dances and Arias'.

Good to hear a fine bit of Edward Gregson (and he will get three outings in this section) and good to see a couple of Welshmen from the Hughes clan (above) doing a fine but of musical missionary work here too...


Friday 9, 09:33:47

Live and live

The action will soon start at the Champinships with the Second Division bands performing in the Grieghallen main hall.

The extra good news is that you can also follow the action for free at:
https:/­/­livestream.com/­nmf

Just follow the link and enjoy what we are enjoying here in Bergen!


Thursday 8, 23:42:52

From 1979 to date...

When Metronom 66 won the first Elite Division title here in 1979 they did so by playing 'The Belmont Variations' by Arthur Bliss.

The following year Manger won on 'Entertainments'. Eikanger's first victory in 1981 came playing 'Spectrum'.

This year a band in the Third Division is playing it.

The progress made by Norwegian banding in the last 40 years has been nothing short of remarkable — and not just with the playing standard either.

Properly organised, with strong banding representation (a few years ago they showed their strength in stopping the choice of test pieces selected by the NMF), there is so much to admire about the way they go about things here — even if they occasionally they get it wrong.

Lots then to enjoy tomorrow and Saturday as Eikanger looks to claim a sixth title in the last seven years and loads of ambitious bands put their necks on the line with their own-choice music selections.

The only pity is that no one will be playing 'Belmont Variations' again...

See you tomorrow...


Thursday 8, 23:19:40

Quiz question answer...

Our little brain tickler of what links the pop song Mr Tambourine Man with a novelette by Daphne du Maurier and the West Indian cricketer Joel Garner this weekend was of course..... birds.

The Byrds sang 'Mr Tambourine Man', Daphne du Maurier's novelette was 'The Birds' — later tuned into the famous film by Alfred Hitchcock, and the great Joel Garner was 'Big Bird' — although he had the ability to crush toes with a deadly yorker.

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Thursday 8, 23:13:02

Action stations...

It will be an early morning call on Friday as we head to the Grieghallen for the start of the 2018 Norwegian National Champnships.

It's kicks off at 9.30am local time with the first of 13 performances in the Second Division — with Gjovik Bybrass playing 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' in the main Griegsalen hall.

Meanwhile, in the Peer Gynt hall the action starts at 10.00am with the first of the 12 contenders in the Fifth Section — starting with Frei Hornmusikk playing 'Three Saints'.

That will be followed by the 14 bands in the Third Division — starting around 4.00pm with Skui Brass Band with 'Prisms' whilst the Elite Division set-work starts at 3.30pm in the main hall with the first performance of 'Aubade — Dawn Songs of the Fabulous Birds'.

Griegsalen Hall:
Second Division: 9.30am followed by the Elite Division set-work at 3.30pm.

Peer Gynt Hall:
Fifth Division: 10.00am followed by Third Division at 4.00pm.


Thursday 8, 21:53:07

Change of adjudicator...

Due to illness, Jan Fedrik Christiansen will be replaced as an adjudicator in the Elite Division own-choice section and the Third Division by the experienced Jens T Larsen.


Thursday 8, 21:43:19

Music in all different styles and genres...

There is sure to be a great deal of interest in the set-work, 'Aubade — Dawn Songs of the Fabulous Birds' by Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen this weekend, but given that we have enjoyed the likes of his 'Seid', 'Riffs & Interludes' and 'Mutant Sonorities' here in the last few years, it hasn't caused much of a fuss.

The open mindedness about 'contemporary' brass band compositions is one of the great strengths of the Norwegian banding movement.

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What's all the fuss about this bird song music anyway?

However, there may well be much more debate with the own-choice selections in the Elite Division, where we get just one repeat — a double helping of 'Journey of the Lone Wolf'

How do you compare and contrast the likes of Wilfred Heaton's austere 'Partita for Band' with the thump and grind of 'Goldberg 2012' or the topographical majesty of 'As if a voice were in them...'.

Then again, what about the emerging Valse of 'Raveling,Unraveling', the bottled ingenuity of 'Extreme Makeover' or the universal musical sounds of the spheres or the contrasting biblical interpretations of 'Revelation' and '...Dove Descending'?

In the First Section we get 'Metropolis 1927' up against 'Tallis Variations' whilst in the Second there is 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' vying for glory with 'Five Blooms in a Welsh Garden'.

And what about 'Spectrum' against a brand new Harry-Spankers 'Sollicitus' in the Third or 'Olympus' versus 'Pageantry' in the Fourth? It almost seems an understatement of intent that the Fifth Division will see 'Rhapsody in Brass' and 'The Graces of Love' up against each other.


Thursday 8, 21:03:28

It's not all about the money...

Not only is there the honour of becoming a National Champion on offer in Bergen this weekend, but there is also the small matter of prize money.

Norway is a rich country, so it's important to put things in context, but you don't exactly get a bumper payout here even if you are a winner.

The Elite Division champion picks up a prize package worth around Kr 65,000 — roughly £5,900.

Not bad — and more than the winners of both the Nationals and British Open gets in the UK, but given that you will pay around Kr 140 (£12.75) for a pint of beer here in Bergen, it won't go that far in buying a celebratory round of drinks.

The are varying amounts for each of the Division winners and podium finishers — from Kr 40,000 in the First down to Kr 10,000 in the Fifth, although this year the prizes have been boosted by sponsorship donations from the local Bergen Kommunes (the city local authority).

Money isn't everything in banding here then it seems...


Thursday 8, 15:47:56

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The titles to be won...

First Division:

Saturday10th February
Start: 8.30am
Own-Choice:
Adjudicators: Katrina Marzella, Stig Nordhagen, Hakon Berge

Draw Order:
1. Radoy Brass (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen)
Tallis Variations (Philip Sparke)
2. Askoy Brass Band (Reid Gilje)
Journey of the Lone Wolf (Simon Dobson)
3. Sola Brass Band (Garry Cutt)
English Heritage (George Lloyd)
4. Brottum Brass (Ray Farr)
Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Peter Graham)
5. Ila Brass (Adam Cooke)
Metropolis 1927 (Peter Graham)
6. Rong Brass (Erik Janssen)
Sounds (John Golland)
7. Flesland Musikklag (Thor-Arne Pedersen)
Lowry Sktechbook (Philip Wilby)
8. Tomra Brass Band (Stian E. Svendsen)
Paganini Variations (Philip Wilby)
9. Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn (Rune Gundersen)
Of Distant Memories (Edward Gregson)
10. Oslofjord Brass (Rune Hannisdal)
Sinfonietta No. 3 (Etienne Crausaz)
11. Hasle Brass (Robert Solberg Nilsen)
Dances and Arias (Edward Gregson)
12. Sandefjord Brass Symposium (Chris Johnson)
Noatun (Chris Johnson)

Second Division:

Friday 9th February
Start: 9.30am
Own-Choice:
Adjudicators: Katrina Marzella, Elisabeth Fossan

Draw Order:
1. Gjovik Bybrass (Christian Tenfjord)
Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Peter Graham)
2. Sagvag Musikklag (Yngve Nikolaisen)
Dances and Arias (Edward Gregson)
3. Orskog Brass (Jonathan Bates)
The Raid (Oliver Waespi)
4. Tromso Brass (Geir Davidsen)
Equilibrium (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
5. Tertnes Amatorkorps (Tormod Flaten)
The Essence of Time (Peter Graham)
6. Oster Brass (Eirik Gjerdevik)
Dances and Arias (Edward Gregson)
7. Manger Old Star Brass (Marit Tommermo)
Connotations (Edward Gregson)
8. Haukas Musikklag (Jan Egil Jorgensen)
The Son of Light (Bertrand Moren)
9. Sorum Musikklag (Ray Farr)
Time Machine (Thomas Doss)
10. Alexander Brass Band (Morten E Hansen)
Five Blooms in a Welsh Garden (Gareth Wood)
11. Agder Brass (Thomas Swatland)
The Land of the Long White Cloud (Philip Sparke)
12. Tysnes Musikklag (Yngve Nikolaisen)
The Plantagenets (Edward Gregson)
13. Jolster Musikklag (Arvid Anthun)
Ballet for Band (Joseph Horovitz)

Third Division:

Friday 9th February
Start: 4.00pm
Own-Choice:
Adjudicators: Niels-Ole Bo Johansen, Jens T Larsen

Draw Order:
1. Skui Brassband (Thor-Willy Karlsen)
Prisms (Peter Graham)
2. Nes Musikkforening (Thorbjorn Lunde)
Quintessence (Robert Redhead)
3. Bjorvika Brass Band (Robert Solberg Nilsen)
Journey into Freedom (Eric Ball)
4. Fraena Musikkorps (Randi Anita Dale)
Hinemoa (Gareth Wood)
5. Folleso Musikklag (Jacob Vilhelm Larsen)
The Saga of Tyrfing (Jacob Vilhelm Larsen)
6. Stangaland Brass (Melvin White)
Spectrum (Gilbert Vinter)
7. Floro Hornmusikk (Torgeir Halvorsen)
Firestorm (Stephen Bulla)
8. Valdres Brass (Thorgeir Thunestvedt)
The Land of the Long White Cloud (Philip Sparke)
9. Gjesdal Brass Band (Jonas Skartveit Rogne)
Ravenscroft Variations (Jacob Vilhelm Larsen)
10. Trondheim Politis Brassband (Espen Andersen)
Coventry Variations (Bramwell Tovey)
11. Bergen Brass Band (Thor-Arne Pedersen)
The Land of the Long White Cloud (Philip Sparke)
12. Lindas Brass (Hilde Brevik Grytten)
Trittico (James Curnow)
13. Fjell Brass (Joseph Cook)
Flashback (Jan de Haan)
14. Laksevag Musikkforening (Fredrick Schjelderup)
Sollicitus (Fredrick Schjelderup)

Fourth Division:

Saturday 10th February
Start:11.00am
Own-Choice:
Adjudicators: Bjorn Bus, Elisabeth Fossan

Draw Order:
1. Brumunddal Brass (Per Kristian O Syversen)
Labour and Love (Percy Fletcher)
2. Holmestrand Ungdomskorps (Arild Ovrum)
Sinfonietta: The Town Beneath the Cliff (Philip Sparke)
3. Filadelfia Hornorkester Drammen (Pal Andre G Worren)
The Day of the Lord (Stephen Ponsford)
4. Sotra Brass (Ben Hirons)
Olympus (Philip Harper)
5. Krohnengen Old Stars (Oyvind Raknes Nikolaisen)
Pageantry (Herbert Howells)
6. Stavanger Kommunes Korps (Gwyn Evans)
Images for Brass (Stephen Bulla)
7. Hetlevik Musikklag (Patrik Randefalk)
Sinfonietta (Alan Fernie)
8. Indre Torungen Brass Ensemble (Lars Bjornar Strengenes)
Three Extraordinary Journeys (Philip Sparke)
9. Langhus Brass (Tomas Austestad)
Saint-Saens Variations (Philip Sparke)
10. Fla Musikkorps (Odd Steinar Morkved)
Triptych (Philip Sparke)
11. Kjolsdalen Musikklag (Arvid Anthun)
The Prizewinners (Philip Sparke)
12. Lyshornet Brass (Oyvind Raknes Nikolaisen)
Labour and Love (Percy Fletcher)
13. Moen Musikkforening (Ole Kristian Egge)
Triptych (Philip Sparke)
14. Flora-Bremanger Brassband (Johnny Saelemyr)
Triptych (Philip Sparke)
15. Tysvaer Brass (Paul Hughes)
The Kingdom of Dragons (Philip Harper)

Fifth Division:

Friday 9th February
Start: 10.00am
Own-Choice:
Adjudicators: Bjorn Bus, Davur Juul Magnussen

Draw Order:
1. Frei Hornmusikk (Jens Kristian Mordal)
Three Saints (Goff Richards)
2. IMI Brass (Per-Erik Petersen)
To Serve and to Save (Dudley Bright)
3. Lillehammer Brass (Jon Kristian Solberg)
Rhapsody in Brass (Dean Goffin)
4. Lismarka/Mesnali Brass (Andres Halla)
Friendly Takeover (Oliver Waespi)
5. Randaberg Musikkorps (Pal Magne Austernes-Underhaug)
Lake of the Moon (Kevin Houben)
6. Rosendal Musikklag (Yngve Nikolaisen)
Portrait of a City (Philip Sparke)
7. Alvik Musikklag (Torbjorn Dagestad Jnr)
Youth Salutes a Master (Eric Ball)
8. Norheimsund Musikklag (Patrik Randefalk)
Labour and Love (Percy Fletcher)
9. Saksumdal Musikkforening (Andres Halla)
A Gallimaufry Suite (Philip Harper)
10. Heroy Brass (Kjellstein Knotten)
The Graces of Love (Oliver Waespi)
11. Skeie Brass (Nigel Fielding)
Three Haworth Impressions (Gordon Langford)
12. Grenland Brass (Tommy Sorby)
Purcell Variations (Kenneth Downie)


Thursday 8, 15:30:37

How the action unfolds...

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Elite Division:

Friday 9th February
Start: 3.30pm
Set-Work: Aubade (Dawn Songs of the Fabulous Birds) (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen)
Adjudicators: Stig Nordhagen, Hakon Berge, Per Kristian Svensen

Saturday 10th February
Start: 2.45pm
Own Choice:
Adjudicators: Niels-Ole Bo Johansen, Jens T Larsen, Davur Juul Magnussen

Competing Bands:
Bjorsvik Brass (Andreas Hanson)
Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)
Jaren Hornmusikkforening (Florent Didier)
Kleppe Musikklag (Philip Hannevik)
Krohnengen (Prof Nicholas Childs)
Manger Musikklag (Peter Sebastian Szilvay)
Molde Brass (Russell Gray)
Oslo Brass (Robert Solberg Nilsen)
Stavanger Brass (Allan Withington)
Tertnes Brass (Martin Winter)

Own Choice: (Draw Order)
1. Kleppe Musikklag (Philip Hannevik)
Journey of the Lone Wolf (Simon Dobson)
2. Stavanger Brass (Allan Withington)
Goldberg 2012 (Svein H. Giske)
3. Manger Musikklag (Peter Sebastian Szilvay)
Raveling, Unraveling: In search of La Valse (Philip Sparke)
4. Krohnengen (Prof Nicholas Childs)
Extreme Makeover (Johan de Meij)
5. Tertnes Brass (Martin Winter)
As if a voice where in them... (Oliver Waespi)
6. Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)
Partita (Wilfred Heaton)
7. Bjorsvik Brass (Andreas Hanson)
Revelation (Philip Wilby)
8. Molde Brass (Russell Gray)
Music of the Spheres (Philip Sparke)
9. Jaren Hornmusikkforening (Florent Didier)
Journey of the Lone Wolf (Simon Dobson)
10. Oslo Brass (Robert Solberg Nilsen)
...Dove Descending (Philip Wilby)


Thursday 8, 12:52:21

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Welcome to Bergen

Despite the question marked welcome sign at the overhauled Flesland airport, we have arrived in Bergen for the 2018 Norwegian National Championships.

There is the promise of plenty of great competitive music making in all the six sections, with the champion band also gaining the honour of representing the nation at the 2019 European Championships in Montreux.

It's cold and damp at the moment, but by all accounts it's been getting very cold in the evenings, so hopefully we can find our way the famous musician's bar later tonight for a warming cheap beer or two...



Enderby Band - Enderby Band Christmas Concert

Monday 17 December • Enderby Church. Corner of Leicester Lane/Blaby Road. Enderby. Leicestershire LE19 4AR


Foden's Band - Little Lever High School

Tuesday 18 December • Little Lever High School ,Church Street, Little Lever, Bolton, BL3 1BT


The Wigston Band - The Wigston Band Christmas Concert

Thursday 20 December • St Thomas Church, South Wigston LE18 4TA


Regent Hall Concerts - Royal Greenwich Brass Band

Thursday 20 December • St Alfege Church. 3 Greenwich Church Street SE10 9BJ


The Wigston Band -

Thursday 20 December • St Thomas Church, South Wigston LE18 4TA


Haslingden & Helmshore Brass Band

December 18 • Haslingden & Helmshore, North West 1st Section Brass Band. . MD Mr. Simon Cowen (Principal Trombone with RLPO) . Require 2 front row Cornet players & Percussionist to complete the band. . A very sensible mix of engagements with rehearsals every Tuesday 8pm


Meltham and Meltham Mills Brass Band

December 18 • We have a vacancy for a Soprano and BBb Bass to complete the line up for the areas. Nice Schilke Sop sat waiting for the right person! The band currently competes in the 2nd Section and has a full program of concerts and contests.


The Corsham Band

December 18 • The band are currently looking for an experienced Back Row Cornet Player to join our friendly and enthusiastic team. Second or Third Cornet position available.


David A. Stowell


Conductor and composer