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Bergen?

Krohnengen Brass Band, Manger Musikklag, Eikanger Bjorsvik
Conductors: Prof Nicholas Childs, Martin Winter, Reid Gilje
Compere: Stein Skorpholm
Grieg Hall, Bergen
Saturday 12th February



In its way this was an event that meant more to the Norwegian brass banding movement than any competition held at this magnificent hall since its first National Championships in 1979.

It was a focal point of a nationwide response to the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions that over the last two years had almost completely stopped bands performing in public as well as imposing the severest of challenges to rehearsing.

The musical emotion displayed was therefore palpable (especially in light of the cancellation of the 2022 National Championships). It must also have been felt far from the Grieghallen stage as bands in communities up and down the country took the opportunity to perform to audiences once more.

Celebration

A celebration then – with the trio of Hordaland bands playing their part in full; from the lightweight delights of Krohnengen through to the inventive detours of Manger and the clever memory triggers of Eikanger.

The large, appreciative audience lapped it up; right from the moment Prof Nicholas Childs brought the baton down for ‘A Fantasy for Joy’  - an appropriate ‘Ode’ to the return to performance.

Polished

Krohnengen provided the neatly conceived starter course for the three part menu; a collection of polished amuse-bouche items that tickled the taste-buds but still left enough space for what was to follow.  

Harry Potter and Jack Sparrow to James Bond and Brassed Off (a super soloist in Vegard Marøy) - even the closing ‘New Beginnings’  was a nod to rejuvenated spirits. It was a great way to inject distilled enthusiasm back into the collective bloodstream.

Harry Potter and Jack Sparrow to James Bond and Brassed Off (a super soloist in Vegard Marøy) - even the closing ‘New Beginnings’  was a nod to rejuvenated spirits. It was a great way to inject distilled enthusiasm back into the collective bloodstream.

Showcased

Manger veered off like an excited first time Bergen visitor keen to take in all the sights; from Leonardo’s ‘Dreams’  to the ‘Fairy Queen’, the ‘Hooks and Grooves'  of Simon Dobson to the funky strides of Mark Taylor ‘Bop’  and Reggie Price ‘Bounce’.

Martin Winter’s band showcased rather than showboated; confident and considered, their soloist, Aidan Smith a lyrical delight on Golland’s ‘Ballade’. 

Wizardry

It left Eikanger to round things off with a musical reminder of contesting times past.

Their centrepiece was one of Reid Gilje’s wizardy concoctions; an alchemist mixture of 22 bite-sized golden test-piece nuggets – from ‘Journey into Freedom’  to ‘Blitz’, all with a link to the works played at the National Championships over the years.  There was perhaps even an oblique reference to the long overdue (and it will be three years when it does) ‘World Rejoicing’ - or was that just us all hoping?

Their centrepiece one of Reid Gilje’s wizardy concoctions; an alchemist mixture of 22 bite-sized golden test-piece nuggets – from ‘Journey into Freedom’  to ‘Blitz' all with a link to the works played at the National Championship over the years.

A rampant ‘Festive Overture’, super ‘I Believe’  soloists in Gyda Matland and Lars Otto Lunde Torsvik and a showy ‘London Overture’  topped and tailed things before the closing ‘Mahalageasca’  provided the last dose of revitalising tonic juice for the audience to take home with them in their veins. 

Thanks to Stein Skorpholm 

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