2007 Norwegian National Championships - Postcard

15-Feb-2007

It may have taken some of the 4BR team 28 hours to get to Bergen, but once again it was well worth the wait.


The 2007 Norwegian Champions were once again a superb festival of music making. Now in its 29th year it has grown into one of the most significant brass band contests in the world, and all the evidence to why it has become such, both musically and in terms of organisation, are there to be seen and heard.

Hall
Playing to a full hall: The Norwegians wait for the results

The major strength of the event surely lies with the professional approach of the organisers, the Norwegian Band Federation who once again provided the bands with a perfect platform to showcase their talents. Their progressive approach is welcomed by the competitors themselves and they have genuine and feasible long terms aims and objectives that will not only ensure that this event continues to prosper here in Bergen, but will secure a vibrant future for brass banding in the country as a whole.

Points
What to points make? The last three in the Elite section waits the announcement of the results

When you see how they approach the development of the lower sections in particular you do wonder what on earth we are doing back in the UK. Their relaxed approach to the question of open adjudication, repertoire, player registration and the like is light years ahead of us and shows that with some clear thinking and solid organizational back up, the lower sections can become an amazingly vibrant experience. It is hard to see a reason why their approach cannot be adopted in the UK for the Lower Section National Finals, Pontins or the Mineworkers Championships. It's time has come and the proof was there for all to see – full halls for each of the lower section contests in the Peer Gynt auditorium and a really healthy crowd present in the vast expanses of the Grieg Hall itself. 

Presenter
Its the way I tell 'em: One of the presenters does his stuff

That crowd certainly enjoyed themselves both at the post contest Brass Night celebrations and the pre results concert which featured the quite exceptional talents of the trombonist Nils Landgren – a man who we suspect could make musical sounds out of a piece of discarded down piping. Some act.

Pretywoman
This is what it is all about: A smile from a competitor 

His contribution was the prelude to the results being announced, in a ceremony that is both informal but very professional too. The results are beamed directly onto the backdrop of the hall so everyone can see just where they came, whilst the band representatives are all present at the front of the stage. It's a slightly different way of doing things, but it does make it all more transparent and doesn't allow for the ungainly scramble for the results at the back of the stage, which seems to be such a feature of UK contests.
 
Redvbag
Now where did Eric Ball write something for this then?

It was also great to see how the major ‘star' players give something back to the movement by taking up the baton too. The standard of conducting technique in Norway is far superior to that in the UK – even in the lowest sections the MDs are technically correct, and if some do lack a little ‘fire in the belly' it is more than made up by the fact that they don't prance around thinking they have Black Dyke at their disposal.  

Watching the likes of Stavanger's Espen Westbye and Eikanger's Tormod Flaten directing bands in such assured fashion was a real delight, whilst there is also evidence to suggest that perhaps the time is fast approaching when even the very best bands cut their links to the UK too, with the emergence of high quality conducting talent such as Selmer Simonsen and Arvid Anthun, both of whom were very impressive on the weekend. 

Westbye
Rising talent: Stavanger's Espen Westbye enjoys his double

The Norwegians are leading the way at present and there were representatives from their forthcoming Grenland and SIDDIS contests already on hand with information and invitations to their events later in the year, whilst representatives of Stavanger and the 2008 European were keen to point out that so much of the organization for that event has already been put in place too.

If there continues to be a weakness in Norway it stems from the continued inability of the very best bands to really come to terms with classic brass band repertoire – they do struggle somewhat trying to portray emotion in their music making at times, whilst the ambitions of some bands and their MDs in the lower sections still tends to be in excess of their abilities too. The top bands do perform their own choice selections exceptionally well though, although once again there was the sense that a few were playing to the box so to speak hoping to make a subconscious mark with their choice rather than their actually playing. Thankfully, the judges spotted that too.

Overall the Norwegian Championships 2007 was a great event once more – despite the fact that it took the 4BR Editor 28 hours to get there due to the snow. It was well worth the wait that had to be endured in Amsterdam airport, because the ultimate destination probed to be well worth while once more.

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