There was a long awaited title success to be enjoyed by Solna Brass at the Swedish National Championships in Varnamo on the weekend.
18 years after their last victory, the band from the northern outskirts of Stockholm reclaimed the National Championship Trophy thanks to a brace of excellent performances under the baton of MD, Emil Bjorklund of the set-work, 'Chivalry' by Martin Ellerby, and their own-choice selection of 'Paganini Variations'.
The result saw defending champion Windcorp Brass Band, who were in search of an eighth consecutive win come runner-up, with Gota Brass Band in third. Solna, formed in 1970, will now represent Sweden for the seventh time at the European Championship in Ostend — their first appearance at the contest since 1997.
"We are all thrilled that our long wait is now over," Band spokesperson Hakan Wikenstal told 4BR. "18 years is a very long time, but it has been well worth it — especially as we enjoyed a great night of celebration."
Hakan also revealed that the victory had been dedicated to their founding conductor Lars-Gunnar Bjorklund, the father of the band's current MD, who suffered a heart attack in the week leading up to the event, but who is now making a welcome recovery, boosted by the news of the success.
"We heard the news before the contest and it meant that we had to rearrange a number of rehearsals. Our MD, Emil Bjorklund did a wonderful job in such difficult personal circumstances and all our thoughts were with Lars-Gunnar and his family. We hope the win has made him feel so much better!"
Solna's victory was based on the solid foundation laid by their performance of 'Chivalry' on the Friday, which gave them a clear two-point buffer over nearest rivals Gota, with Windcorp a point further back.
Despite the defending champion giving a rousing table-topping rendition of 'Harmony Music' on the Saturday under MD Tom Davoren and with Gota delivering a colourful account of 'Music of the Spheres', neither could overturn the margin as Solna's 'Paganini Variations', aided by the splendid playing of 17 year 'Best Instrumentalist' Klara Blomgren on flugel, prevailed.
"We are now starting our absolute aim to get to Ostend," Hakan added. "We have a proud history at the European Championships — coming third at the very first contest in 1978 under Lars-Gunnar Bjorklund, so to be able to return once more is a fantastic achievement for the band.
We are also very proud that we are not a project band and that we work hard to improve every rehearsal. The players take credit for the victory — especially Klara who has become a great player on flugel after moving onto the instrument less than a year ago."
In the First Division, there was a fine battle to enjoy as Lunds Universitets Brassband conducted by Roger Andersson overturned last year's result by claiming a two-point victory over defending champion Asenhoga Brass Band. Smyrna Brass was third.
A brace of structured accounts of the set-work 'Lake of the Moon' and their own-choice of 'Renaissance' proved good enough to repel the challenge of their rivals who also played the same pieces led by former Eikanger euphonium star Patrik Randefalk. Smyrna performed 'Call of the Gospel' and 'Prelude on Lavenham' as their own-choice selections.
Halmstad Brass also went one place better in the Second Division as they claimed the title under the direction of Mikael Johansson with performances of the set-work, 'Legenda Rumantscha' by Oliver Waespi and their own-choice of 'The Journal of Phileas Fogg'.
It enabled them to secure a single point victory over former winners Gnosjo Brass Band (who played 'St Michael's Mount' by Eric Ball as their own-choice) with defending champion Bors Brass Band in third.
Earlier in the enjoyable Minibrass contest, Bors Youth Brass successfully defended the title to secure a third win in the past four years under the direction of Ulrik Lundquist.
Before the announcement of the results, recently crowned Siddis Champion Eikanger Bjorsvik gave a short concert under the baton of Reid Gilje.
For more information, go to: http://www.brassband.nu/
Image courtesy of: Olof Forsberg.
We are all thrilled that our long wait is now over. 18 years is a very long time, but it has been well worth it — especially as we enjoyed a great night of celebrationBand spokesperson Hakan Wikenstal
Adjudicators: Frank Renton, Anne Crookston, Erik Gjerdervik, Reid Gilje
Set work/Own choice = Average total
1. Solna Brass (Emil Bjorklund): 94/93 = 93.50
2. Windcorp Brass Band (Tom Davoren): 91/94 = 92.50
3. Gota Brass Band (Stig Maersk): 92/91 = 91.50
4. Betlehemskyrkans Musikkar (David Glanneskog): 87/89 = 88.00
5. Uffes Blas Brass Band (Mattias Hjortlinger): 86/88 = 87.00
Best Instrumentalist: Klara Blomgren (flugel) — Solna Brass
Best Section: Trombones of Windcorp Brass Band
Winning Conductor Prize: Emil Bjorklund, Solna Brass
1. Lunds Universitets Brassband (Roger Andersson): 94
2. Asenhoga Brass Band (Patrik Randefalk): 92
3. Smyrna Brass (Anders Hellman): 90
4. Malmo Brass Band (Niels-Ole Bo Johansen): 89
5. Torsby Brass (Berit Palmquist): 88
Best Instrumentalist: Johannes Forsberg (euphonium) — Asenhoga Brass Band
Best Section: Percussion of Lunds Universitets Brassband
Winning Conductor Prize: Roger Andersson (Lunds Universitets Brassband)
1. Halmstad Brass (Mikael Johansson): 89
2. Gnosjo Brass Band (Jan Hultegard): 88
3. Bors Brass Band (Ulrick Lundqvist): 86
4. Jarfalla Brass Band (Torgny Hansson): 85
5. Allianskyrkans Musikkar, Jonkoping (Magnus Rydberg): 83
6. Immanuel Brass — Enkoping (Ann-Sofie Andersson): 82
Best Instrumentalist: Bengt Ekeberg (euphonium) — Allianskyrkans Musikkar, Jonkoping
Best Section: Cornet section of Gnosjo Brass Band
Winning Conductor Prize: Mikael Johansson (Halmstad Brass)
1. BUBB — Bors Ungdomsbrassband
2. AYBB — Asenhoga Youth Brass Band
3. Gybb — Goteborg Youth Brass Band
4= Bors Minibrass
4= Habo Small Band
4= Immanuel Minibrass — Enkoping
4= The Fun Minibrass, Almhult
4. Sodertorns Minibrass
Best Instrumentalist: Lucas Hjortlinger (soprano) — Goteborg Youth Brass Band
Best Section: Asenhoga Youth Brass Band
Winning Conductor Prize: Ulrik Lundquist (Bors Ungdomsbrassband)