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2019 Norwegian National Championships
As it happened

All the action from the 2019 Norwegian National Championships — As it happened.

Saturday 9, 21:19:42

Results:

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Elite Division:

Adjudicators:
Set Work: Roger Argente; Christopher Parkes; Thomas Beiganz
Own Choice: Ingemar Roos, Halldis Ronning; Mark Heron
Set Work/Own Choice = Total

1. Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag (Reid Gilje): 96.5/96 = 96.25*
2. Stavanger Brass (Allan Withington): 94/97 = 95.5
3. Manger Musikklag (Peter Sebastian Szilvay): 91/98 = 94.5
4. Bjorsvik Brass (Andreas Hanson): 89.5/94.5 = 92
5. Jaren Hornmusikkforening (Florent Didier): 88/95.5 = 91.75
6. Tertnes Brass (Paul Holland): 92/91 = 91.5
7. Oslo Brass (Ivan Meylemans): 87/92.5 = 89.75
8. Oslofjord Brass (Frode Amundsen): 84/93 = 88.5
9. Molde Brass (Russell Gray): 86/89.5 = 87.75
10. Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn (Rune Gundersen): 85/88 = 86.5

Soloist Prize (Own Choice): Principal Cornet (Jaren Hornmusikkforening)
Section Award: (Set Work): Trombones (Eikanger Bjorsvik)

*Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag receives invitation to represent Norway at the European Championships in Palanga in 2020


Saturday 9, 21:14:13

Results:

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First Division:

Adjudicators: Jens Torolf Larsen, Thomas Beiganz; Christopher Parkes

1. Krohnengen (Prof Nicholas Childs) — 96
2. Kleppe Musikklag (Philip Hannevik) — 95
3. Rong Brass (Erik Janssen) — 93
4. Askoy Brass Band (Svein Henrik Giske) — 92
5. Ila Brass (Adam Cooke) — 91
6. Flesland Musikklag (Thor-Arne Pedersen) — 89
7. Tomra Brass Band (Frans Violet) — 88
8. Radoy Brass (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen) — 87
9. Sandefjord Brass Symposium (Helge Haukas) — 86
10.Tertnes Amatorkorps (Tormod Flaten) — 85
=11. Hasle Brass (Robert Solberg Nilsen) — 84
=11. Oster Brass (Eirik Gjerdevik) — 84

Solo Prize: Euphonium (Radoy Brass)
Section Award: Percussion (Krohnengen)


Saturday 9, 21:08:10

Results:

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Second Division:

Adjudicators: Ingemar Roos; Tom Brevik

1. Brottum Brass (Ray Farr) — 96
2. Sola Brass Band (Gwyn Evans) — 95
3. Sorum Musikklag (Ray Farr) — 94.5
4. Orskog Brass (Jonathan Bates) — 94
5. Folleso Musikklag (Thorgeir Thunestvedt) — 93
6. Tysnes Musikklag (Yngve Nikolaisen) — 92.5
7. Fjell Brass (Joseph Cook) — 92
8. Manger Old Star Brass (Bjorn Sagstad) — 91.5
9. Alexander Brass Band (Morten E Hansen) — 91
10. Jolster Musikklag (Arvid Anthun) — 90.5
11. Haukas Musikklag (Sindre Dalhaug) — 90
12. Sagvag Musikklag (Yngve Nikolaisen) — 89.5
13. Stangaland Brass (Melvin White) — 89

Solo Prize: Horn (Sola Brass Band)
Section Award: Cornets (Orskog Brass)


Saturday 9, 21:07:07

Results:

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Third Division:

Adjudicators: Mark Heron; Halldis Ronning

1. Krohnengen Old Stars (Oyvind Raknes Nikolaisen) — 97
2. Nes Musikkforening (Thorbjorn Lunde) — 95
3. Lindas Brass (Hilde Brevik Grytten) — 94.5
4. Agder Brass (Thomas Swatland) — 94
5. Laksevag Musikkforening (Fredrick Schjelderup) — 92
6. Trondheim Politis Brassband (Espen Andersen) — 91.5
7. Gjovik Bybrass (Christian Tenfjord) — 91
8. Bergen Brass Band (Thor-Arne Pedersen) — 90.5
9. Tromso Brass (Tor Kristian Ravnanger Innbjor) — 89
10. Bjorvika Brass Band (Robert Solberg Nilsen) — 88
11. Skui Brassband (Jan Roger Oren) — 87
12. Kjolsdalen Musikklag (Arvid Anthun) — 86
13. Gjesdal Brass Band (Jonas Skartveit Rogne) — 85
14. Stavanger Kommunes Korps (Gwyn Evans) — 84
15. Filadelfia Hornorkester Drammen (Pal Andre G Worren) — 83

Solo Prize: Euphonium (Gjovik Brass)
Section Award: Tubas (Krohnengen Old Stars)


Saturday 9, 20:59:06

Results:

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Fourth Division:

Adjudicators: Roger Argente; Rut Jorunn Ronning

1. Valdres Brass (Rune Furoy Johansen) — 94
2. Lyshornet Brass (Oyvind Raknes Nikolaisen) — 93.5
3. Norheimsund Musikklag (Patrik Randefalk) — 92
4. Flora-Bremanger Brassband (Phillip Goodwin) — 89
5. Tysvaer Brass (Paul Hughes) — 88.5
6. Moen Musikkforening (Ole Kristian Egge) — 88
7. Floro Hornmusikk (Torgeir Halvorsen) — 86
8. Grenland Brass (Tommy Sorby) — 85.5
9. Hetlevik Musikklag (Sturle Berntsen) — 85
10. Fraena Musikkorps (Randi Anita Dale) — 84.5
11. Frei Hornmusikk (Nick Ost) — 84
12. Randaberg Musikkorps (Pal Magne Austernes-Underhaug) — 83.5
13. Lismarka/Mesnali Brass (Andres Halla) — 83
14. Sotra Brass (Ben Hirons) — 82
15. Fla Musikkorps (Odd Steinar Morkved) — 81.5

Solo Prize: Cornet (Lyshornet Brass)
Section Award: Tubas (Floro-Bremanger Brassband)


Saturday 9, 20:57:34

Results:

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Fifth Division:

Adjudicators: Jens Torolf Larsen; Rut Jorun Ronning

1. IMI Brass (Linda Saglien Svensen) — 94
2. Saksumdal Musikkforening (Andres Halla) — 92
3. Riska Brass Band (Espen Westbye) — 91
4. Lillehammer Brass (Jon Kristian Solberg) — 90
5. Indre Torungen Brass Ensemble (Lars Bjornar Strengenes) — 89.5
6. Langhus Brass (Tomas Austestad) — 89
7. Holmestrand Ungdomskorps (Arild Ovrum) — 88
8. Haus Musikklag (Jon-Vegar Sole Sundal) — 87
9. Brumunddal Brass (Gunnar Roen) — 86
10. Skeie Brass (Nigel Fielding) — 85
11. Alvik Musikklag (Torbjorn Dagestad Jnr) — 83

Solo Prize: Flugel (Lillehammer Brass)
Section Award: Saksumdal Musikkforening


Saturday 9, 20:28:15

Results on the way....

The results are getting closer and will be published once known but you can watch here:

https://www.facebook.com/NMFkorps/videos/2231551470201300/


Saturday 9, 19:50:42

4BR Overall Prediction:

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Using that well known scientific method of calculating a winner of the 2019 Norwegian National Championships (adding up the positions from the two days) we think the title could well be staying in the hands of Eikanger Bjorsvik for another year.

Over the two days they just had that little extra level of composed class about them — and the pragmatic choice of Philip Sparke's 'Perihelion' was a bit of a master stroke given the nature of the judges and the amount of sheer volume that was on show around them.

Manger Musikklag has run them exceptionally close once again — with inspired playing over the two days. If the title heads to them, few will grumble about its authenticity.

Stavanger are getting ever closer, but are still just a notch below their rivals in consistency, whilst Jaren, Bjorsvik and Tertnes fill the top-six places but could end in any order. They tied on points for us over the two days — with the set-work taking precedence.

So it's Eikanger for us from Manger, Stavanger, Jaren, Bjorsvik and Tertnes with our dark horse of Oslofjord.

4BR Overall Prediction:

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

Dark Horse: Oslofjord Brass


Saturday 9, 19:35:28

4BR own choice round-up and prediction....

What an engrossing day that was — all the way back to 8.30am in fact when we got to hear the first of a number of memorable performances in the First Division.

Then came the big guns in the Elite Division — and they didn't disappoint, with some brilliant playing on show from the usual suspects and many others.

If the judges are going for sheer exotic excitement then they will surely opt for Manger's visceral offering, but if it's something more academic then it will be Eikanger. You get the feeling that they may just go for the latter.

The artistic difference between them both was immense but you still could seperate them with a single sheet of Bergen bog paper.

Then it's equally close between Stavanger, Bjorsvik, Jaren and Tertnes. Stavanger just get the nod for us over Tertnes, Bjorsvik and Jaren on this occasion with Oslofjord a bit of a dark horse.

4BR Own-Choice Prediction:

1. Eikanger Bjorsvik
2. Manger Musikklag
3. Stavanger
4. Tertnes
5. Bjorsvik
6. Jaren Hornmusikkforening

Dark Horse: Oslofjord


Saturday 9, 18:51:09

Elite Division:

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10. Oslofjord Brass (Frode Amundsen)

A Tale as Yet Untold (Philip Sparke)

The second of the two performances of arguably Sparke's most personal and introspective work touching on the subject the power the human spirit has to overcome adversity and how the beauty of music can help the healing process.

Well structured playing this to open — full of nervous energy bubbling away above and below the surface, with the MD allowing detail to seep through the heavy textures. Sensible and secure that.

An unknown haunting lyricism permeates the second movement — boldy played by all the confident soloists it must be said. No fear of the unknown here for sure. Bravo to all the lead lines and to the MD for allowing them the space to flourish on their own terms. That was splendid.

It's rounded off with sprightly finale, full of pulse and drive. Lots to enjoy here with a compact ensemble playing with controlled brio.

A band that upped its credentials by quite a few notches today with this quality performance.

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Saturday 9, 18:26:46

Elite Division:

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9. Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn (Rune Gundersen)

Isaiah 40 (Robert Redhead)

Robert Redhead's richly affecting and effective work is almost a personal Biblical inspiration — asking questions of musical faith of players, conductors and listeners alike.

An exploratory opening builds in confidence and substance, if occasionally showing some nerves. MD shapes the music with a bold hand and is rewarded with spirited (certainly not spiritualist) playing of faithful endeavour.

Fanfares announce a change in gear and stylistic direction, which has colour and verve, before we relax to the hymnal solo cornet lead. Tender playing just gets a touch forceful in places, but again the music flows so well.

The big reprise with its lapping sounds of the waves — almost like James Cook on Salvation Army seaboard duty brings things to a well-structured and triumphant close.

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Saturday 9, 17:52:11

Elite Division:

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8. Stavanger Brass (Allan Withington)

Midnight's Butterflies (Maurice Donnet-Monay)

A work that paints an elegant picture of the somewhat mystical and much misunderstood figure of the moth — so much so that the composer even wrote it under the pseudonym identity of Lars Nygard.

It is musical Lepidopterology — a case study of the moth's various strengths, colours, elegance, fragility and mystery — all 271 colour patterns.

It's certainly bold to open, as if hitting its head repeatedly on a light bulb with its ferocity; metal sheets and wind machines blowing the insect into our faces. Then something magical happens — led by the cornet and euph — a transformation. Some moth dust is sprinkled in places but that was lovely.

Back to the mythical now and almost a Jaws undercurrent throbs away before the frenzy, the slapping clappers and esoteric troms. Not quite secure at times, but it recovers for a sublime moment of peaceful rest.

Almost a detour to a night club to end — all dark fun and pulsating energy as if drawn for one last time to the neon lights and ultimate destruction.

MD has given everything to this — and it pays off with a huge finish to a work of rich intensity and drama.

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Saturday 9, 17:20:45

Elite Division:

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7. Jaren Hornmusikkforening (Florent Didier)

Fraternity (Thierry Deleruyelle)

A work that has quickly gained almost iconic status since it was used at the European Championships, 'Fraternity' is a rhapsodic homage to the lives and deaths of hundreds of miners in a disaster of terrifying proportions.

The looming presence of danger is ever present as the music unfolds with a sense of foreboding — laid out with both character and feeling by the MD. There is a visceral excitment to the playing in the Dukas inspired mining depths — before the percussive horror of the explosion and its hellish aftermath.

Gets a little frenetic in places and MD has to use the pick and shovel to link things back up before the trom chorale. This has a touching grace and mournful hymnal quality despite the occasional clip.

It builds to a fine climax — imposing, triumphantly optimistic and a finish of meaningful longing.

Another fine performance from Jaren this weekend under their Parisian MD.

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Saturday 9, 16:43:58

Elite Division:

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6. Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag (Reid Gilje)

Perihelion: Closer to the Sun (Philip Sparke)

'Perihelion' is in essence a concerto for brass band (although played in one continuous movement) with the abstract inspiration relating to the date Sparke started writing the piece — which just also happened to be the day the earth was closest to the sun.

The pragmatism behind the choice is shown with a consummate display of technical prowess linked to those musical mammoths of Wagner, Dukas and Ravel — huge overbearing bombast contrasting with delicacy like fronds of ice and colourful mixes of mesmeric textures.

Little clips and smudges — but flaming heck this is stunning you like a cattle prod in an abattoir.

No praise high enough for the MD who shapes the music without recourse to artifice — and complete trust in his players. Sublimely understated euph lead to trek to a huge climax and then ethereal beauty.

The familiar Sparke triplet higgledy piggledying signature trope is joyfully effervescent. It is so precise and builds with such intensity and purpose however, to an ending that gives you a musical chemical peel of the face for those in the front row. Superb brass band playing that.

The title may well be in their possession for another year...

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Saturday 9, 16:42:18

Back to the action...

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Well, after a first half like that, the second has a lot to live up to.

There is plenty more to come though for this audience...


Saturday 9, 15:54:41

Elite Division:

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5. Molde Brass (Russell Gray)

Masquerade (Philip Wilby)

Wilby's witty Shakespearean portrait of that punch-drunk, but inherently decent old soldier Falstaff and his fun and games with the merry wives of Windsor Park is still a huge tour de force (once described as unplayable remember when it first came out).

A different band from yesterday this as well — full of bluff flattery and tenderness, bombast and bravery too — especially the soloists. MD is expertly shaping the music — allowing a loose tether, but still keeping a rigour to the technique.

The rising moon almost came with an overtone of a leftover Ondes Martenot — it was so well done.

The fun and games are a hoot — round and round the tubby old Falstaff is hoiked by his own petard — each neatly handled like a game of pass the parcel with a blubberous whale tied up in string.

The last laugh here is with the MD and his band — giving it the full Shakespearean beanz for a tremendous finish.

As we said — a different band all together today giving a performance of rich merit and substance.

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Saturday 9, 15:15:29

Elite Division:

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4. Manger Musikklag (Peter Sebastian Szilvay)

Concerto No 10: ***** for Brass Band and Ondes Martenot (Ludovic Neurohr)

The work that has been getting the tongues wagging like thirsty huskie dogs on a Nordic hike is an exploration of raw emotion — the stars signifying the five linked movements that make up the whole: no word can truly describe it.

The opening section is a bubbling prelude — the Ondes Martenot bringing an ethereal spectre of otherworldliness to the music — almost alien. No little green men here though — just those flashes on the jackets of the band.

The immersive second section is like an injection of cocaine in the eyeballs — ferociously kaleidoscopic, whilst the third, led by the soprano with the electronic overtones is all about sharing emotions. It is a thing of beauty — dripping with melancholic loss.

The fourth is the rawest of all — a series of solo interventions that draw the listener in deeper and deeper with the MD drawing out the most sumptious sounds. The sheer bombastic brilliance is something else before it closes with a touching pianissimo chorale that leaves you drained — that electronic. sound from another dimension.

The finale section is a frenzied tour de force — a manic dance overridden by the sound of the Ondes Martenot — but throbbing with atomic energy. Bloody hell this is nuclear reactor stuff — Houston we have lift off!

Just simply bonkersly brilliant that — as mad as a box of little green alien frogs....

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Saturday 9, 14:36:55

Elite Division:

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3. Tertnes Brass (Paul Holland)

A Tale As Yet Untold (Philip Sparke)

The first of two performances of arguably Sparke's most personal and introspective work — touching on the subject of the power the human spirit has to overcome adversity and how the beauty of music can help the healing process.

There is a nervous energy and dramatic impulse to the opening movement; shaped with such good governance by the MD and delivered with aplomb by his players.

The heart of the work draws deep into the emotional well to reflect on the 'Sturm und Drang' of the first movement with an indomitable sense of optimism — led by a near perfect trio of euph, horn and cornet.

Once more the MD lays out a broadly textured canvas of warmth and longing. The chorale is touchingly fragile before building to its climax and tender repose.

Fleet footed optimism abounds in the finale — although a little scratchy and uneven in places. There was a super flow to the music — led by a lyrical sop. The power switch is flicked by the MD in the closing stages — but it is a controlled surge of wattage and has such an imposing finality.

Excellent stuff from Tertnes on a piece that suited them and their MD to a tee.

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Saturday 9, 14:14:06

Elite Division:

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2. Bjorsvik Brass (Andreas Hanson)

Journey into Freedom (Eric Ball)

What a wonderful treat — the high water mark of Eric Ball's mature secular output — what followed only ebbed at the shoreline of his metaphorical rhapsodic masterpiece.

And how it is played with such warmth and understanding too — right from the mechanical menace of the opening with the triplet horns heard like the pistons in the engine block.

Each of the linked sections is full of drama; the growing anxiety followed by the tender emergence of first self love and then the all important inner love that freedom brings.

The cornet solo yearns with longing, the scherzo light and breezy. Each little corner turned to perfection — lovingly caressed. The tuba holds your rapt attention in his massive paw.

The build to the close is a thing of rare, refined beauty — built on layer and layer of anticipation. Oh, that sent a shiver up your jacksy. The clouds of darkness fade away and we reach Nirvana — not Kurt Cobain's version for definite either.

What a fantastic close — triumphant in every sense. Glory be — that was something to cherish.

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Saturday 9, 13:43:43

Elite Division:

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1. Oslo Brass (Ivan Meylemans)

The Night to Sing (Bramwell Tovey)

Bramwell's affectionate, but ultimately poignant snapshot of the day the Second World War ended is a much under-valued work — but not here in the supple musical hands of a masterful MD.

He really has made this come to life; mixing the emotions from exultation to relief, mourning to conga inspired mayhem — all played out on a London street that still bears the scars of battle.

The little touches of rubato and making the complex sound so simple is so well done. Odd moments of unease and a few falls down an old crater or two, but this has been played with warmth and stylistic nuance.

You really felt the underlying anguish and anxiety in the central section of those lost and what the future holds — but not before it's an old Eastenders knees up with fat old Mrs Mills plonking away on the ivories.

Cor blimey guv'nor that was good — and the build and hope for the sunlit highlands of Mr Atlee's new era is splendidly done too — full of growing passion and belief.

Really good that.

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Saturday 9, 13:40:51

Elite Division:

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Draw:

1. Oslo Brass (Ivan Meylemans)
The Night to Sing (Bramwell Tovey)
2. Bjorsvik Brass (Andreas Hanson)
Journey into Freedom (Eric Ball)
3. Tertnes Brass (Paul Holland)
A Tale As Yet Untold (Philip Sparke)
4. Manger Musikklag (Peter Sebastian Szilvay)
Concerto No 10 for Brass Band (Ludovic Neurohr)
5. Molde Brass (Russell Gray)
Masquerade (Philip Wilby)
6. Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag (Reid Gilje)
Perihelion: Closer to the Sun (Philip Sparke)
7. Jaren Hornmusikkforening (Florent Didier)
Fraternity (Thierry Deleruyelle)
8. Stavanger Brass (Allan Withington)
Midnight's Butterflies (Maurice Donnet-Monay)
9. Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn (Rune Gundersen)
Isaiah 40 (Robert Redhead)
10. Oslofjord Brass (Frode Amundsen)
A Tale as Yet Untold (Philip Sparke)


Saturday 9, 13:13:25

First Section round-up and prediction:

This has been both an enjoyable and intriguing contest for the neutral listener.

The overall standard has been very high — and as we said earlier the best could very easily take their place at British Open level.

There are many reasons why, but unquestionably one reason is that Elite level banding here is not overloaded by mediocrity. The potential winner for us is a case in point. Krohnengen has been a regular elite level band for many years, but was relegated last year and has taken its medicine in the most positive manner.

Their performance of 'Fraternity' had an authentic stamp of quality led by Prof Nicholas Childs. Nobody came close to it today for us — despite some excellent renditions from Tomra, Kleppe, Rong, Sandefjord amongst others.

It's Krohnengen though from Tomra, Kleppe, Rong, Sandefjord and Ila with a dark horse if Radoy.

4BR Prediction:

1. Krohnengen
2. Tomra
3. Kleppe
4. Rong
5. Sandefjord
6. Ila

Dark Horse: Radoy


Saturday 9, 11:56:19

Putting judges behind bars...

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One of the major plus points to the Norwegian Championships is the transparency they employ about the way they go about judging things.

There is open adjudication in all sections below the Elite level (and even there only the set-work is closed). The judges can see as well as hear what is going on.

As a result, we haven't heard a single complaint about the process — the judges are respected to give their decision. There is no nonsensical talk of 'subconscious' favouritism.

The lower sections in particular are an informal delight — certain players being welcomed by the audience and even the comperes. It makes for a much more inclusive feeling of a celebration of brass band music making — that just happens to have a winner at its end.


Saturday 9, 11:06:51

Great First Division...

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The level of First Division playing in Norway is very high indeed. There are a host of bands here who wouldn't be out of place in the Grand Shield and a couple at least who would grace the British Open.

We are just over halfway through the contest and we have heard a number of high class performances — and one exceptional one from Krohnengen under Prof Nicholas Childs.

The latest classy show came from Rong Brass conducted by Erik Janssen (above) — so no wonder he was smiling.

It was also a delight to see the great Helge Haukas in action conducting Sandefjord Brass Symposium — a model of elegance and refinement. He is the eminence-grise of Norwegian conductors with a record of achievement at the event that goes back to its earliest days.


Saturday 9, 09:57:04

A new age of technology...

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We have seen the introduction of the iPad here to replace music on the stands of some players — but today could also herald another first for technology — with the iPad being used as a musical instrument in a brass band contest.

It will make its debut with Manger Musikklag in their performance of 'Concerto No 10: ***** for brass band and Ondes Martenot'.

As brass band Ondists are a very rare breed, even in Norway, Manger will instead use an app developed by a Japanese designer to replicate the sound of the instrument. It will be 'played' by the band's percussionist who has to manipulate the screen of the app, which features an image of the Ondes Martenot, by using his fingers.

Seeing and hearing it in action is quite stunning — the sound, although not as pure and ethereal as the original instrument is spookily close (think of the sound used for flying saucers in 1950's sci-fi space movies).

The question however, is this an exciting new development in brass band music making, or the start of slippery road to technological overload?

And is it really fair to say that it is a piece that truly lives up to its name?

Shouldn't the band really use a living, breathing human Ondes Martenot player instead of a brass band version of the Hal computer from 2001 A Space Odyssey?


Saturday 9, 09:08:50

Fraternal greetings...

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It may be just after 10.00am in the morning here in Norway, but we have already heard a truly memorable performance to stick in the memory banks long after this event has finished.

Krohnengen's rendition of 'Fraternity' was of the very highest quality — one that wouldn't have been out of place in the top-six at the British Open a couple of years ago. Masterminded by Prof Nicholas Childs using his Black Dyke score as the blueprint, it was packed with technical precision, detail, balance and immense musicality.

The MD is on fire at the moment — be it was a rejuvenated Queensbury band at the RNCM Brass Band Festival and now here — and these players responded superbly, led by the wonderful euphonium and closely followed by the principal cornet, sop, tuba, trom, baritone etc... The percussion playing was outstanding.

If anyone beats that today then it will have been exceptional...


Saturday 9, 07:35:12

Early morning memories...

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It's so early in the morning for Nigel Fielding of Tomra Band that he still hasn't opened his eyes...

They will soon be stalks with 'From Distant Memories' though...


Saturday 9, 07:13:38

First Section delights...

The early morning action here in the main Greighallen will be centred on the First Division — which you have to say looks at being an ambitious cracker.

There are big gun conductors everywhere to start with: Frans Violet, Prof Nicholas Childs, Erik Janssen, Adam Cooke, Svein Henrik Giske and Philip Hannevik to name but a few.

Has a First Section level contest anywhere in the world had a line-up of conducting talent like that in its ranks?

Then there are the pieces that have been chosen — including 'Of Distant Memories', 'Fraternity', 'Titan's Progress', and a trio of Etienne Crausaz's 'Sinfonietta No 3' — not forgetting a 'Paganini Variations', 'Partita' and 'Sounds'... This is a contest that will take some sorting out.

It all kicks off at 8.30am... No wonder there is a buzz around the place.


Saturday 9, 07:05:20

Good morning from Bergen...

Day 2 at the Norwegian National Championships dawns (although it's still pretty dark in these parts at 7.30am) with two very different taking points still being aired from yesterday.

The first of course is who people think may hold a slender advantage as we go into the own-choice element later today. Eikanger of Manger? It seems a bit like Brexit in the UK — around 52% going for the defending champion and 48% for Manger.

Stavanger and Jaren are just about still in the mix, with Bjorsvik and Tertnes looking to cement their top-six places today.

The second question arises from the own-choice selections made by the bands themselves — especially these two.

Can Eikanger repel their rivals with their very pragmatic choice of 'Perihelion: Closer to the Sun' or can the left field choices of '*****' Concerto No 10 for Brass Band and Ondes Martenot' by Manger or the likes of 'Midnight's Butterflies' with Stavanger tip the scales in their favour?

We'll let you know a bit more about the intrigue surrounding these choices a little later on....

So what about Bjorsvik rolling back the years with 'Journey into Freedom' or Jaren paying French homage with their Parisian conductor with 'Fraternity' and Tertnes with 'A Tale As Yet Untold'?

Questions, questions, questiions...


Friday 8, 20:15:33

Elite Division round-up and prediction:

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A hugely enjoyable set-test first leg — with plenty of variance in interpretations, styles and execution — some brilliant, some blemished and some a touch bonkers.

The two bands at the very top today would take some beating at any contest anywhere in the world with playing of that standard — with Eikanger's symphonic brass approach, almost a brass band homage to the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, perhaps leading the way from a kaleidoscopic take on the score from Manger.

Those two were a margin or two ahead of the rest with Stavanger and Jaren closely matched behind.

Then it's a toss up between the solidity of Tertnes against the individualistic brilliance of Bjorsvik — with the latter just getting the nod despite it hanging in there like a fruit bat in places.

4BR Prediction:

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


Friday 8, 19:29:54

Elite Division:

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10. Bjorsvik Brass (Andreas Hanson)

How can an elegant and urbane conductor like Andreas Hanson draw out such brilliantly vicious playing from an ensemble? Cor blimey that singed your eyebrows — the euph and tuba to open pinning you back in your seats.

It carries on — as rough as a jock strap full of sandpaper marbles at times — but oh so fantastically ballsy all the same. This is cut throat playing of sheer surgical alcohol strength vivacity. Darth Vadar couldn't summon up more dark menace than this.

The blues are as mournful as Ella Fitzgerald at her best — it weeps stylish fragility. Tuba is an artist at play in a Bergen basement nightclub, the flugel plays with a whiff of danger like the last lingerings of cheap perfume on your sweaty shirt. Tubas lead to a close of emptiness.

Just loses its focus in places in the rumba to open — but it picks itself up and finds the fruity groove it demands. However, something then goes so waywardly wrong that it flew off the radar like a boomerang banana — only to find its way back to Brazil.

Gets a second wind though to finish off a hugely enjoyable and very individualistic performance.

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Friday 8, 19:03:38

Elite Division:

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9. Oslo Brass (Ivan Meylemans)

Memories flood back of the great Major Arthur Kenney on his pedestal as the MD gains an extra few inches in stature to lead his band in a bold opening. Not quite pristine by any means, but the tuba has a sound to wake the dead in Bergen cemetery.

Great drive and sense of purposeful menace. What have they fed those ferocious tubas on? Not one vegan lettuce lover amongst those meaty lads you suspect. They were bloody rabid.

Bravo flugel — that was x rated filthy — brilliantly so. The blues have come into town here — oozing sensuality and mischief. It's flawed in places but so what, as it builds to a trembler climax. Phew! MD stabs the air like Zorro ready to throw a javelin.

Flugel comes back for a second helping of dirty dancing just to rub it in.

Rumba takes off like the proverbial rat up a Copacabana drainpipe — the music exciting but as rough as the six o'clock shadow on Danny La Rue's chin. It just about holds together thanks to the spirit of collective endeavour and they give it the full shebang for the finale too.

Colourful to say the least that.

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Friday 8, 18:37:57

Elite Division:

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8. Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn (Rune Gundersen)

A few uncomfortable moments are heard in places to open, but there is verve and energy about the playing as the MD clearly defines his intentions.

It carries on in the same heartfelt vein — but some arterial claret is split too. It's just a bit rough around the edges as the ensemble forces the pips out of the dark menace in the score.

An atmospheric trip into the guts of the blues underbelly — again dark and dangerous. It takes a few casualties, but the stylish intent makes it absorbing. MD has not been afraid to strip the music to its bare bones here. Cool Hand Luke second flugel (bumper up doing a sterling job with his airy, jazzy inflections) is superb to close.

The reprise goes a bit wonky in places — as if Carmen Miranda has had a hip replacement, but it has such passionate verve and DayGlo colour. There is something in the martini cocktails to fire up the Quattro for a bumper of a finish though.

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Friday 8, 18:07:54

Elite Division:

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7. Stavanger Brass (Allan Withington)

An animated opening thumps out an immediate impact — just the odd blemish tarnishing the canvas — but it is playing full of controlled menace and flowing intent. That really made musical sense — paced to perfection.

As stylish as the MDs suit and trousers combo too; although some bits come up a bit short as the hemline on his strides. The balances in the ensemble are so well defined though — nothing loses focus.

A wonderful sense of louche sensuality in the blues — again flowing with an oily viscosity. MD is laying this out with such transparency; it reeks with edgy beauty and danger. A flick knife in the suspenders for those with itchy fingers. What a great close and the flugel is so classy.

The rumba is up-tempo but still with a swagger of the hips and a knowing smile of sharp wit. This is like seeing Dorothy Parker with a bowl of fruit on her head rather than Carmen Miranda. Great reprise closes off a performance full of style and acerbic wit — but also a few blemishes too.

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Friday 8, 17:27:42

Elite Division:

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6. Jaren Hornmusikkforening (Florent Didier)

Bold stuff to open, although it does have its moments when the splinters fly like like shrapnel.

There is an elegant style to the playing though — dare one say a touch Gallic with an artistic swish to the presentation. Not perfect by any means, but the substance is also there though — not too heavy and leaden, but lean and frisky. It's paced so well.

The Blues is a sumptuous melange — led by a floozy of a trombone who oozes sozzled sensuality like a good time girl who has seen one punter too many. Builds so well to a breathless climax that thumps the headboards. Super flugel to close. Oh that was so good Monsieur Didier. Merci beaucoup...

The Rumba has style by the banana bucketful too — and love the introduction of the cimbasso. Not everyday you see one of those on Copacabana Beach.

The light touch is so effective — Miss Miranda has lost a few pounds but still wiggles her coconuts so well. This has been a touch of classiness, despite the odd blemish.

There is stamina in the tank too for the close — played with control and tastefulness to round off a performance of some note.

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Friday 8, 16:30:10

Elite Division:

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5. Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag (Reid Gilje)

The type of start that can stop a charging moose at 400 yards — an impenetrable wall of sound Donald Trump would buy for 5 billion dollars to stick on the Mexican border. Super euph and tuba are stanchions of steely nerve.

MD is a bear of a man but conducts with the hands of a sculptor — the result is precise and symphonic in its dynamic and tonal span, from Mariana Trench tubas to beserker sop.

The blues are so stylish — almost with a cultured disdain; examined but not over indulged. Pristine that — not a single grubby paw mark left where it shouldn't have been placed. Flugel has an icy beauty, the climax shudders the soul — and then the flugel returns to quickly nick your wallet. Utter class.

The rumba has an academic wit — dry, knowing and spiky with every punchline delivered with perfect timing — especially tubas and bass trom. This is Bergen by the Rio beach; sizzling in the rays and topped by fruity cocktails. What superb ensemble playing this is.

It's rounded off with a reprise and drive for home that just pulsates with glorious energy and sheer imposing authority.

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Friday 8, 16:03:22

Elite Division:

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4. Molde Brass (Russell Gray)

Sounds a little unconvincing to start — and it takes its time to notch into the groove. Not quite hitting the button marked solid here.

MD works hard to get it on track and it huffs like an old steam engine into bold overdrive. There is real sparkle amid the smog though (bullseye sop) as we head into a fog of a very different kind and the blues.

This is the MDs musical territory alright — louche and soaked in cheap perfume. Trom is so classy — as is the cornet. Just meanders slightly but tuba and flugel lead us back into the underbelly of those tempting blues.

An up-tempo rumba has spriit and verve but just needs that extra mohito kick to send it fully 'Way down Rio' — it's nearly there.

The reprise of the opening fanfares is top notch and there is plenty in the tank to give it the high-heeled welly to the climax and beyond to a fine close.

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Friday 8, 15:31:25

Elite Division:

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3. Manger Musikklag (Peter Sebastian Szilvay)

MD up to his old tricks again with the 'up and at 'em' start — but what a start it is. Euph is tip top but tuba is an artist.

It's like being hit with a sonic meat cleaver — the sound has such depth but a sop cornet razor edge that can cut through granite. Bloody Nora — and we are talking Ibsen not Last of the Summer Wine here — it's shaking your eyeballs out. What an opening statement of intent.

We sink into the blues led by the siren of sensuality that is the flugel in best Mae West mode. There is such a forbidden intensity to this playing — filthy brilliance. What a climax — then another dose of the flugel. You need a fag and a kip before starting again after that. Unsurprisingly the cornets just trembled before they closed the door.

The rumba is as fruity as Carmen Miranda in full banana dress. You could mix a cocktail on the MDs swinging backside here — fab.

Just gets a touch over ripe in places but this is so witty and fun — before the meat cleaver comes out again to knock your block off to end. Superb.

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Friday 8, 15:01:36

Elite Division:

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2. Tertnes Brass (Paul Holland)

It's robust stuff from the ensemble and lead solo lines to open — the cadenzas solid if unspectacular. It grows though with a dark menace and drive — great torque from the tubas and bass trom leading the way.

It's hit its bootstraps now — real fizz on top and a loose goose honking brilliantly in the depths into the crepuscular recesses of the blues. Flugel is suavely alluring and there is a murky atmosphere created — all old fag smoke and stale vodka. Great. What a super close too — flugel with a 'come hither young man' sense of desire. Blimey luv.

The rumba is just in need of a touch of what the flugel has been drinking — never quite loosening its hips, although it has endeavour and energy. Bass trom has been gargling with absinthe and gravel — superb.

There is a boldness to the playing now — confident and imposing if occasionally wonky. MD has drawn a good one from his band here — meaty, visceral and hugely enjoyable.

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Friday 8, 14:32:16

Elite Division:

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1. Oslofjord Brass (Frode Amundsen)

Led by the splendidly attired MD its a confident, if scratchy start — with just a few too many little splashes of Grosso adrenaline juice.

It builds so neatly with a compact ensemble and punchy drive, but loses cohesion in places too. The blues are languid and just the right side of gin soaked sozzled in a fetid atmosphere. Oh those itches! Little boils of trouble that pockmark the surface like spots on a teenager's face. A pity.

Artisan flugel leads well to close the blues — although the ensemble door is a bit sticky.

Rumba time is fun — if a touch pacey. Needs a bit more fruity swagger and sashaying of the hips to get that sense of oily sensuality. It has a kick of a rum punch though.

Hits the tracks on the reprise with such boldness — and great throbbing drive. It's as scratchy as a junk yard dog in places but still has the stamina to head for a fine ending.

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Friday 8, 14:23:04

Draw:

Elite Division:

Set Work: Concerto Grosso (Derek Bourgeois)
Friday 8th February
Griegsalen
Start: 3.30pm
Adjudicators: Roger Argente; Christopher Parkes; Thomas Beiganz
(closed adjudication)

1. Oslofjord Brass (Frode Amundsen)
2. Tertnes Brass (Paul Holland)
3. Manger Musikklag (Peter Sebastian Szilvay)
4. Molde Brass (Russell Gray)
5. Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag (Reid Gilje)
6. Jaren Hornmusikkforening (Florent Didier)
7. Stavanger Brass (Allan Withington)
8. Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn (Rune Gundersen)
9. Oslo Brass (Ivan Meylemans)
10. Bjorsvik Brass (Andreas Hanson)


Friday 8, 13:48:06

Waiting for the start...

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Elite Division:

Set Work: Concerto Grosso (Derek Bourgeois)
Friday 8th February
Griegsalen
Start: 3.30pm
Adjudicators: Roger Argente; Christopher Parkes; Thomas Beiganz

Competing bands (closed adjudication)

The draw will be posted when the judges are in the box

Bjorsvik Brass (Andreas Hanson)
Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag (Reid Gilje)
Jaren Hornmusikkforening (Florent Didier)
Manger Musikklag (Peter Sebastian Szilvay)
Molde Brass (Russell Gray)
Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn (Rune Gundersen)
Oslo Brass (Ivan Meylemans)
Oslofjord Brass (Frode Amundsen)
Stavanger Brass (Allan Withington)
Tertnes Brass (Paul Holland)


Friday 8, 13:44:44

Elite Division:

Concerto Grosso: Opus 61A (Derek Bourgeois)

'Concerto Grosso' was written in 1979, although not as a full brass band composition.

The initial work was in fact written for the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, a ten-piece made up of four trumpets, 1 French horn, 4 trombones and a tuba and was given its premiere at Philip Jones' farewell concert.

Bourgeois was at that time the Professional Musical Director of the Sun Life Band and when in 1982 they were asked to perform on the BBC radio 'Bandstand' programme the composer took the opportunity of re-scoring the work for full band.

Although an immense tour de force, he believed it to be within the capabilities of most top class Championship bands, although as the years have progressed it has become an epic challenge successfully tamed by only the very best bands in the world.

The term 'Concerto Grosso' is used by the composer in the baroque sense, as throughout the work much is made of smaller ensembles featured against a larger accompanying background.

Written in three main parts it is played as a continuous whole and explores in each of its sections material that ranges from the technically brilliant to the sombre, beautifully melodic — all with an added sense of acerbic wit.

Each of the major solo players are tested to the limit, whilst the ensemble is pushed to the full. Influences of jazz, blues and even a Charles Ives inspired rumba (via Carmen Miranda) are heard, although the initial thematic motto announced at the outset returns time and time again throughout the piece.

It remains perhaps the most vividly brilliant of all brass band compositions.

Iwan Fox


Friday 8, 12:18:48

Looking forward to Grosso..

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There is a great deal expectation, anticipation and more than a little anxiety with the Elite bands about the prospect of facing one of the great tests of banding in Derek Bourgeois' 'Concerto Grosso'.

Having heard it bite and bite deep and hard at the Swiss Nationals in November it will be interesting to hear how far it will sink its gnashers into the backsides here. It is not a piece that can be under-estimated in anyway shape or form. It is an epic test of character as well as stamina.

The draw has been made and we will publish it as soon as the judges go in the box. It should be a cracker.


Friday 8, 11:47:06

Lots to enjoy...

It's been a cracking start to the National weekend here in Bergen — with both the Second and Fifth Divisions showcasing high quality playing.

The introduction of the Fifth Division in 2012 and with a much more dynamic movement between the sections at the lower level in recent years, has produced greater consistency in the level of playing in each section.

The top end of the Elite level is still up there with the very best anywhere in the world, but the quality in the First and Second Section is markedly above that in the UK and the rest of the world for that matter.

Quality not quantity works it seems...


Friday 8, 11:23:46

Age does not weary them...

Don't know what the official retirement age is here in Norway, but their bands certainly place a high value on experience.

In the Second Section we have a line-up of conducting talent that has included Ray Farr, Bjorn Sagstad, Yngve Nikolaisen, Morten E Hansen and now Gwyn Evans.

Like the best single malt whiskies, age has made them more ever more rounded (althouh thankfully not physically) as conductors of insight and musicality.

It's been a joy to see them all in action... And not a single Sanatogen tablet to be seen...


Friday 8, 10:46:01

Ambitions met in Second Section...

There is never a lack of ambition on show at these Championships — and that has certainly been the case in the Second Division so far with a host of perform news that have lived up to thier lofty expectations.

A cracking start from Brottum Brass with a warm and engaging 'Rococo Variations' led with instinctive musicality by Ray Farr, and followed by a dramatic rendition of 'Salamander' by Orskog Brass under Jonny Bates.

Manger's colourful 'Spectrum', a purposeful 'Forest of Dean' from Tysnes and now Stangaland with a decent account of 'Prisms'.


Friday 8, 10:19:18

Live streaming for free

If you want to enjoy the action from the Norwegian Championships you can — and it is free!

Go on — you will enjoy every minute of it....

Go to:

Livestream.com/nmf


Friday 8, 09:34:17

A gleaming trophy...

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It's not only the contest itself that has been updated and brought into the 21st century here in Bergen, but the National Trophy itself — and by the man who designed and made it.

Helge Stolshaug Nilsen is a naval architect and a former drummer (not a percussionist he said!) of the Askoy Band.

He came up with the design in 1978 and built it in time for the first Championships in 1979 — incorporating music with the architecture of the recently opened Greighallen.

Over the years some enthusiastic winners have given it a few bumps and scrapes and a few bits had started to show water and tear. They were also running out of space to put on the winner's names.

Now Helge has done a fantastic job refurbishing it back to its original glory with space to add the names
Of the winning band for about another 80 years or more. His name will always be remembered too — as it is discreetly placed to show just who made it.

"I'm very proud to have been able to design and make the trophy," he said as he put the final touches to it at the hall.


Friday 8, 09:09:18

The question of the Onde Martenot...

Some interesting choices in the Elite Section tomorrow for certain — especially with 'Concerto No 10 for Brass Band and Onde Martenot' being played by Manger — a piece we heard played once before at the Swiss Championships a couple of years ago.

Where they got an expert Onde Martenot player from (called an Ondist) is anyone's guess — but perhaps there is a thriving underground musical movement of hidden theremin exponents too in greater Bergen.

One to look forward too — especially as it's up against Stavanger's bold choice of the lepidopterist 'Midnight's Butterflies'and the astronomical pick of 'Perihelion: Closer to the Sun' with defending champion Eikanger.

All that and we've got 'Fraternity', 'The Night to Sing', 'A Tale As Yet Untold', 'Masquerade' and even 'Journey into Freedom'.

Now that's what we call an own choice selection box


Friday 8, 08:52:22

Some tasty early morning treats...

We are in for some tasty morning treats today — starting with a 'Rococo Variations', 'Salamander' and 'Spectrum' in the few bands in the Second Division and the likes of 'The Graces of Love', 'Images for Brass' and a new piece entitled, 'Music for the Medieval Court' in the Fifth Divisio


Friday 8, 08:28:32

Out with the old...

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Good morning from Bergen for the 2019 Norwegian National Champinships.

Nothing stays the same here for too long — from the airport which has now become a monument to steel, glass and duty free shopping, to the demise of the humble contest programme which has been replaced by a 21st on-line app.

Still, the organisers make sure that everyone in Bergen knows what is going on and once again the event is being broadcast live on the Internet — and for free too.

The action kicks off here at 9.30am — and we will try and get you all the details you need to follow the action for yourselves — as soon as someone explains to the 4BR Editor how this new interweb invention works...


Thursday 7, 20:50:01

Come and catch us...

No other conductor in the banding world was arguably better at winning twin discipline contests than David King.

During the peak years of him taking the Yorkshire Building Society Band, he led them to eight European titles — with five of those victories coming after leading after the set-work element. The one time they didn't they ended fourth.

At this event he also led Eikanger to a quartet of successes in 2011-12-13-14 after leading the way on the first day on three of them. Looking back over his record here, the foundation for success came on the set-work.

That may sound as if we are stating the bleeding obvious, but it's a point to remember.

Since 2012, the band that has has been leading after the first day on six of the last seven occasions has gone on to win the title here.

It really is a question of catch us if you can...


Thursday 7, 20:13:01

Welcome to Bergen...

As with a lot of things in the banding world, the international contesting season is led from the front once again in Bergen, with the magnificent Grieghallen hosting the Norwegian Brass Band Championships.

Lots of little interesting side issues to this year's event — although as always there is sure to be a wonderful atmosphere over the two days of intense domestic competition.

For instance — can Eikanger, who have certainly ruled the roost here in the past decade, make it four wins in a row — a feat only achieved on two other occasions (Manger 1993-97 and Eikanger 2011-14), or can Manger, who gained the upper hand at SIDDIS late last year, go onto win their first National title since 2010?

The third of the heavyweight 'Anger' bands in Stavanger is back to something approaching it's thrilling best under Allan Withington, whilst the romantics would surely love to see Bjorsvik Brass triumph.

If they, or any other band, wishes to claim the famous National Trophy they will have to do it by mastering the epic challenge of Derek Bourgeois' 'Concerto Grosso' as the set-work, followed by the counter balance (if they have stamina and confidence left) of their own-choice selection.

The set-work is subject to closed adjudication, whilst the own-choice selections are 'open' (as are all the other sections) — a neat balance in itself to keep traditionalists and revolutionaries happy.

Elsewhere, when was the last time a piece by Eric Ball was used as an own-choice work in the Elite Section (Bjorsvik Brass is playing 'Journey into Freedom'), or when has Prof Nicholas Childs (who has won this title on six occassions) conducted a band in the First Section (we think it was with Tomra here in 2003).

Lots of little questions to ponder over a pint of beer in the bar then before the action starts tomorrow...


Thursday 7, 12:36:28

National challengers prepare for Norwegian title battles



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Rath clinician, conductor, teacher, adjudicator, editor


               

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