2008 Norwegian National Championships - Preview: Elite Division

6-Feb-2008

4BR will be in Bergen to listen to the very best bands in Norway battle it out to see who will represent them at the 2009 European Championships. Can Stavanger retain their title or can someone else stop them?


Geig HallElite Section 

Set Work: Odin – Arthur Butterworth
Friday 8th February (16.30)

Own Choice:
Saturday 9th February (14.45)

Adjudicators:  Andrew Berryman, Jan Fredrik Christiansen, Torgny Hanson
 
The whole focus of the weekend is geared towards the competing bands in the Elite Division – and it promises to be a real humdinger of a contest too.

The added piquancy this year surely surrounds Stavanger’s attempt to secure their first hat trick of victories at the contest, as well as hold onto the all important domestic bragging rights before they represent their country at the European Championships in their own backyard in May.

The boost to their confidence if they can do that will be immense, but what if they end up going as not even the best band in the country if they are beaten here say? That should make for a few extra squeaky bums on all the contenders seats this weekend.

Domestic battle

That sense of a domestic battle for supremacy is surely enhanced by the choice of set work  – Arthur Butterworth’s ‘Odin – from the land of fire and ice’. Based on an ancient Scandinavian cult it seems an ideal choice – all blood, guts and reindeer entrails - a Norwegian mix of the local druids meet the moonies. 

Given that the top bands tend to play the more contemporary works better than beloved classics of the brass band historical genre, this should make for ideal musical fare, and a difficult task for the three adjudicators, Andrew Berryman, Jan Fredrik Christiansen and Torgny Hanson. 

With the set work out of the way it will be time for the showcase finale – the own choice selections, which this year are a pretty eclectic bunch of blockbusters. The Norwegians tend to enjoy the big, bold and brilliant, so it comes as little surprise that there isn’t an Eric Ball work featured on the list of 10 choices made.

The rules state that no work can be duplicated so we are sure a few of the bands will possibly be playing second or even third choice selections. Mind you, that still means that you get to hear  ‘Extreme Makeover’, ‘Titan’s Progress’, ‘Vienna Nights’, ‘Riffs and Interludes’ and ‘Concerto Grosso’ up against ‘Music of the Spheres’, ‘Eden’, ‘Elgar Variations’, ‘Montage’ and ‘Tallis Variations’. Some own choice list that.

The contenders

As for the bands themselves?

Stavanger is the band to beat, no doubt about it. Four times in the last five years they have won here now and with Allan Withington at the helm they should be favourites once more.  They may well have one eye on the Europeans in May, but they would love to go there as three times National Champion. On form they are a quite exceptional band.

Eikanger Bjorsvik will be out for revenge for sure. After the disappointment of their appearance at Brass in Concert they be looking to once again reassert their dominance over the domestic banding scene – something they have only done twice this century – so far.  If they hit their bootstraps under Nicholas Childs then look out.

Manger Musikklag will also be looking to go impress more than they did last year and with Robert Childs back once more they could well fancy their chances of their first national title since 2002. If they can click as they did a couple of years ago then they may well be right in the mix come the announcement of the results.

Last year’s runner up, Krohnengen will be led by Ray Farr and they will be determined to go one better than twelve months ago, whilst Oslofjord Brass will also be hoping that Selmer Simonsen, who led Krohnengen last year, can rub some of his prize winning magic off on them.

The solid performers of Molde will be looking for further improvement too and with the elegant baton of Nigel Boddice to lead them they could force their way into the prizes. Tertnes on the other hand look to the more flamboyant skills of Bjorn Breistein to up them from last year’s 8th place.

Ila look to Thomas Rimul to try and push them towards glory, whilst Jaren Hornmusikkforening after winning the First Division title last year return under the lyrical direction of Helge Haukas. 

That just leaves Sandefjord who enjoyed a bit of a cats life after coming last twelve months ago. With Tomra found guilty of not paying their dues and subsequently being relegated, the former twice winners return under Garry Cutt to see if they can place themselves out of danger this time around.

Who do we think will win then? Read through the bands and find out at the bottom of the page… 


EikangerEikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag
Conductor:
  Dr Nicholas Childs
4BR Ranking: 26

National Record:
2007: 3rd (Nicholas Childs)
2006: 4th (Nicholas Childs)
2005: Winners (Nicholas Childs)
2004: 2nd (Reid Gilje)
2003: 2nd  (Nicholas Childs)
2002: 7th  (Howard Snell)
2001: Winners  (Nicholas Childs)
2000: 2nd  (Nicholas Childs)
1999: Winners  (Nicholas Childs)
1998: 4th  (I. Bergby)
1997: 2nd  (Howard Snell)
1996: 2nd  (Howard Snell)
1995: 5th  (Howard Snell)
1994: 4th  (Howard Snell)
1993: Winners  (Howard Snell)
1992: 3rd  (Howard Snell)
1991: Winners  (Howard Snell)

Overall Record:
Winners in 1981, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2001, 2005 

Last Year: 3rd Overall: 2nd on set work/ 5th on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2007: Eden
2006: Journey to the Centre of the Earth
2005: Concerto Grosso
2004: Concerto No 1 for Brass Band
2003: The Trumpets of the Angels
2002: Daphnis and Chloe

The 9 times winners return this year more determined than ever to add a 10th title to their CV. They certainly have all the right ingredients in place, but sometimes their pursuit of musical excellence can be their Achilles heel – their own choice selections may look impressive on paper but they have not always been contest winning choices. 

The band were great at SIDDIS and very unlucky at Brass in Concert last year and with the contesting limelight very much on their rivals of late, this is the ideal time to regain the major domestic title once more.  


ILAIla Brass Band
Conductor:  Thomas Rimul
4BR Ranking: 179

National Record:
2007: 9th (Trond Korsgård)
2006: 7th  (Trond Korsgård)
2005: 8th  (Catherine Winnes)
2004: 3rd (Thomas Rimul)
2003: 7th  (Bjorn Sagstad) 
2002: 8th  (Frank Renton)
2001: Winners of First Division  (Bjorn Sagstad) (prom)
2000: 7th  (Bjorn Sagstad)
1999: 5th  (Helge Haukas)
1998: 6th  (Nicholas Childs)
1997: 5th  (Nicholas Childs)
1996: 4th  (Ray Farr)
1995: 4th (Maurice Hamers)
1994: 3rd  (Maurice Hamers)
1993: 3rd  (Maurice Hamers)
1992: 7th   (Maurice Hamers)

Overall Record: 
Winners 1989
Winners of First Division in 2001

Last Year:
9th Overall: 9th on set work/ 7th on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2007: Chain
2006: Guovssahasat
2005: Montreux Wind Dances
2004: Exergy Re-Revisited
2003: Salamander
2002: Between the Moon and Mexico

The band that hails from Trondheim has yet to repeat the form that saw them take the title here in 1989. Since then they have had their ups and downs and the last couple of years have seen them a little bit off the pace but still just about hold their own. 

This time Thomas Rimul takes over at the helm and much may depend on their own choice selection – ‘Chain’ last year was just a touch too bland. There is plenty of talent though for him to work with and as they showed at SIDDIS when they came 6th under Selmer Simonsen they are more than capable of taking more than a few scalps. 


JarenJaren Hornmusikkforening
Conductor:
  Helge Haukås
4BR Ranking: Outside top 200 

National Record:
2007: Winners of First Division (Helge Haukås) (prom)
2006: 10th in Elite Division (Helge Haukås) (rel)
2005: 4th (Helge Haukås)
2004: 8th (Helge Haukås)
2003: 9th  (Helge Haukås)
2002: 9th  (Helge Haukås)
2001: 6th  (Helge Haukås)
2000: 2nd in First Division (N/K) (prom)
1999: 6th (B. Eklund)
1998: n/k 
1997: 9th in First Division (T. Elnes)
1996: 4th (T. Elnes)
1995: 3rd in Second Division (T. Elnes) (prom)

Overall Record:
First Division Winners 2007

Last Year:
Winners of First Division

Own Choice Selection:
2007: Journey to the Centre of the Earth
2006: Montage
2005: Ballet for Band
2004: English Heritage
2003: Riffs and Interludes
2002: Klang! – Orjan Matre

Founded back in 1936, Jaren didn’t make their debut at the Nationals until 1980.  They made steady progress over the years and were promoted into the Elite Section in 2001 where under Helge Haukås they have delighted with their selection of own choices works even if they haven’t always come off as hoped.

Never short of ambition they were too good for their rivals in the First Division last year with a classy performance of ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’. Not quite as good at SIDDIS where they came 9th under Orjan Matre, the return of Helge Haukas and another interesting own choice selection may just what they need to make a mark.    


Krohnengen Band logoKrohnengen Brass Band
Conductor:
  Ray Farr
4BR Ranking: 68 

National Record:
2007: 2nd (Selmer Simonsen)
2006: 9th (Allan Withington)
2005: 5th (Ray Farr)
2004: 7th  (Ray Farr)
2003: 6th  (Ray Farr)
2002: 2nd  (Ray Farr)  
2001: 3rd  (Ray Farr)  
2000: 3rd  (Ray Farr)  
1999: 2nd  (Ray Farr)  
1998: 7th  (Kim Lofthouse)
1997: 3rd  (K.O. Midtbo)
1996: 3rd  (K.O. Midtbo)
1995: 6th  (Allan Withington)
1994: 2nd  (K.O. Midtbo)
1993: 4th  (K.O. Midtbo)
1992: 4th  (N/K) 

Overall Record:
Winners 1990
Second Division Winners 1986 

Last Year:
2nd Overall: 4th set work/ 2nd own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2007: Ginnungagap …seeming emptiness
2006: Music of the Spheres
2005: …Dove Descending
2004: Harrison's Dream
2003: Masquerade
2002: Revelation

Founded by former school members in 1969, Krohnengen’s only title success here came in 1990. They have been close since and last year under the direction of Selmer Simonsen they produced two high class performances to push Stavanger all the way to the winning line.

This year Ray Farr returns and it’s a combination that has also come close to victory here too in the past. They are in decent form, coming 4th at SIDDIS under Are Ovesen and if they can show the type of consistency they did twelve months ago then another high placing may well be theirs to celebrate.  


MangerManger Musikklag
Conductor:
  Dr. Robert Childs
4BR Ranking: 63

National Record:
2007: 6th (Robert Childs)
2006: 2nd (Robert Childs)
2005: 2nd (Jesper Juul Sørensen)
2004: 5th (Jesper Juul Sørensen)
2003: 4th  (Allan Withington)
2002: Winners  (Allan Withington)
2001: 5th  (Allan Withington)
2000: 4th  (Allan Withington)
1999: 4th  (Allan Withington)
1998: 2nd  (David King)
1997: Winners (David King)
1996: Winners (David King)
1995: Winners (David King)
1994: Winners (David King)
1993: 2nd  (David King)
1992: 2nd

Overall Record:
Winners in 1980, 1983, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2002

Last Year:
6th Overall: 5th on set work/ 4th on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2007: Seid
2006: Cantigus
2005: Harrison's Dream
2004: Paganini Variations
2003: Harmony Music
2002: Montage

Manger was founded in 1922 and have long been recognised as one of the premier Norwegian brass bands.  Their last national victory came in 2002, and they have been very consistent since, although last year they didn’t quite find favour in the box. 

That said though they have opted for some brave and interesting own choice selections, so what will they opt for this time around? Lots of talented performers around the stands they can really turn it on in fine style (although they came 5th at SIDDIS) under the baton of Robert Childs and another podium finish may well be the result.    


MoldeMolde Brass Band
Conductor:
  Nigel Boddice
4BR Ranking: 130

National Record:
2007: 7th (Alan Morrison)
2006: 5th (Gary Cutt)
2005: 7th (Nigel Boddice)
2004: 4th (Alan Morrison)
2003: 5th  (Alan Morrison)
2002: 4th  (Alan Morison)
2001: 2nd in First Division (Alan Morrison) (prom)
2000: 4th in First Division (N/K)
1999: 7th (N. Albelseth/A. Morrison)
1998: Winners of First Division  (Nils Magne Abelseth)
1997: n/k
1996: 12th in First Division  (N/K)
1995: 7th in First Division (A. Dalhaug)

Overall Record:
Winners of First Division 1998

Last Year:
7th Overall: 7th on set work/ 6th on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2007: Harrison’s Dream
2006: Ginnungagap
2005: Contest Music
2004: Concerto Grosso
2003: …..Dove Descending
2002: Harrison's Dream

Molde were formed in 1979 and they have worked their way up through the sections in Norway ever since. Solid and dependable they have more than held their own in recent years especially with own choice selections that have made the most of their resources. ‘Harrison’s Dream ‘ last year seemed to suit their approach. 

This year Nigel Boddice returns to take the baton and it will be interesting to see how the band responds to his detailed and elegant approach to both disciplines.  


OsloOslofjord Brass
Conductor:
Selmer Simonsen 
4BR Ranking: 95

National Record:
2007: 5th (Michael Antrobus)
2006: 4th (Michael Antrobus)
2005: 9th (Garry Cutt)
2004: 9th (Christian Tenfjord)
2003: 8th  (Robert Childs)
2002: 5th  (Peter Parkes)
2001: 8th  (Selmer Simonsen)
2000: Winners of First Division (Selmer Simonsen) (prom)
1999: 8th  (J.P. Hannevik)
1998: 6th  (J.P. Hannevik)
1997: 2nd in First Division  (J.P. Hannevik)

Overall Record:
Winners of First Division 2000

Last Year:
5th Overall: 6th on set work/ 3rd on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2207: Aubade – Dawn Songs of the fabulous brids
2006: Whitsun Wakes
2005: Paganini Variations
2004: Montage 
2003: Revelation
2002: Contest Music

Just seven years after they were founded in 1995, Oslofjord reached the Elite Division in 2001. Ever since they have more than held their own and in the past couple of years in particular have pushed further towards podium finishes. 

Last year they delivered two very good performances under Michael Antrobus, especially with the immensely difficult ‘Aubade’ that found real favour in the box. This year they will be directed by Selmer Simonsen, one of the rising home grown conducting talents, who also made such an impression twelve months ago with Krohnengen. Not too great at SIDDIS where they came 8th, but they will surely be looking for a third consecutive top six finish at least.  


Sandefjord Brass Symposium
Conductor:
  Garry Cutt
4BR Ranking: 132

National Record:
2007: 10th (Garry Cutt)
2006: 6th (Ray Farr)
2005: 3rd (Robert Childs)
2004: 6th (John Philip Hannevik)
2003: 3rd  (Garry Cutt)
2002: 6th (N/K)
2001: 4th  (Bryan Hurdley)
2000: Winners (Garry Cutt)
1999: 3rd  (Gareth Pritchard)
1998: Winners (Gareth Pritchard)
1997: 6th  (Gareth Pritchard)
1996: Winners of First Division (Gareth Pritchard) (prom)
1995: 3rd in First Division (Ray Farr)
1994: 3rd in First Division (Michael Antrobus)
1993: N/K
1992: 8th (N/K)

Overall Record:
Winners in 1998 and 2000
Winners First Division 1996

Last Year:
10th Overall:  8th on set work/ 8th on own choice 

Own Choice Selection:
2007: Dances and Alleluias
2006: Music for the Moving Image
2005: St. Magnus
2004: Apocalypse
2003: Of Men and Mountains
2002: …Dove Descending

Sandefjord Brass Symposium were champions here in 1998 and 2000 and have been one of the most consistent outfits since. Not so last year though when they didn’t perform on either discipline and found themselves propping up the prize table. 

Only an admin oversight from Tomra saved their bacon, so they will be determined not to end up in the same position this time around.  Garry Cutt may need to get more out of them on the own choice selection to really make a mark, but with plenty of talented players in the ranks they should have enough about them to ensure more than mere survival this year.  


StavangerStavanger Brass Band.
Conductor:
  Allan Withington
4BR Ranking: 18

National Record:
2007: Winners (Allan Withington)
2006: Winners (Russell Gray)
2005: 6th (David King)
2004: Winners (David King)
2003: Winners  (David King)
2002: 3rd  (Steve Bastable)
2001: 2nd  (Frank Renton)
2000: 5th  (Frank Renton)
1999: 6th  (Philip McCann)
1998: 3rd  (James Gourlay)
1997: 4th  (James Gourlay)
1996: 6th  (Garry Cutt)
1995: 3rd  (Garry Cutt)
1994: 5th  (Garry Cutt)
1993: 5th  (Richard Evans)
1992: Winners (Richard Evans)

Overall Record:
Winners in 1982, 1984, 1986, 1992, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007

Last Year:
Winners Overall: 1st on set work/ 1st on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2007: Vienna Nights
2006: Eden
2005: Music of the Spheres
2004: Masquerade
2003: Concerto Grosso
2002: Tristan Encounters

Stavanger was formed in 1980 and they have now won the title here on eight occasions – four times in the past five years. They are the undoubted band to beat. 

The combination of a whole host of cracking players and a conductor with something of a Midas touch makes them short priced odds to make it a hat trick this year, and a repeat of the two thrilling performances of twelve months ago will surely see them right in the mix come the announcement of the results. Beaten by Eikanger at SIDDIS, but the return to the helm of Allan Withington could prove decisive.  


TertnesTertnes Brass
Conductor:
Bjørn Breistein
4BR Ranking: 178

National Record:
2007: 7th (Bjørn Breistein)
2006: 8th (Bjørn Breistein)
2005: Winners of First Division (Bjorn Breistein)
2004: 10th in Elite Section (Bjorn Breistein)
2003: Winners of First Division  (John Hinkley)
2002: 10th in Elite Division
2001: 7th in Elite Division
2000: 6th in Elite Division
1999: 2nd in 1st Division 

Overall Record:
Winners First Division 2003, 2005
Winners Second Division 1984 and 1985

Last Year:
7th Overall: 3rd on set work/ 9th on own choice

Own Choice Selection
2007: Ascending – learning how to fly
2006: Contest Music
2005: Dances and Arias
2004: …Dove Decending
2003: Variations on an Enigma

Tertnes were bobbing up and down between the Elite and First Division for a while, but last year they delivered two performances of quite amazing polarity to secure 8th place. 

Under the baton of Bjørn Breistein the set work certainly found favour in the box, whilst their own choice selection literally never got off the ground, and saw them come 9th. What then this time around? There is a real youthful vigour about the band and a conductor who has bags of talent. 7th at SIDDIS was a fair return but can they ally a touch more consistency to their occasional brilliance to push further up the prize table? 


2008 Own Choice Selections:

A. Concerto Grosso (Bourgeois)
B. Eden (Pickard)
C. Elgar Variations (Ellerby)
D. Extreme Makeover (de Meij)
E. Montage (Graham)
F. Music of the Spheres (Sparke)
G. Riffs and Interludes (Aagaard-Nilsen)
H. Tallis Variations (Sparke)
I. Titan’s Progress (Alliston)
J. Vienna Nights (Wilby)      


2007 Results:

1. Stavanger Brass Band (Alan Withington) (95/97) - 96
2. Krohnengen Brass Band (Selmer Simonsen) (91/95) - 93
3. Eikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag (Dr Nicholas J. Childs) (94/90) - 92
4. Tomra (Frans Violet) (90/94) - 92
5. Oslofjord Brass (Michael Antrobus) (88/93) - 90.5
6. Manger Musikklag (Dr Robert Childs) (89/91) - 90
7. Molde Brass Band (Alan Morrison) (87/89) - 88
8. Tertnes Brass (Bjørn E. Breistein) (92/83) - 87.5
9. Ila Brass Band (Trond Korsgård) (85/88) - 86.5
10. Sandefjord Brass Symposium (Garry Cutt) (86/86) - 86
Soloist prize: Trombone, Tomra Brass Band
Best section: Percussion, Krohnengen Brass Band

Tomra were later demoted to the First Division due to an administrative error though allowed to retian their 4th place at the 2007 contest.. 


4BR Prediction: 

If all the bands play to form then this could be a contest that is too close to call.

However, even if they all do then this trio may just have the edge – Stavanger, Eikanger and Manger – the traditional big three of Norwegian banding.  It could well end up that way too come the results.

Behind them it is a much more open field, but Sandefjord will surely not be as off form as they were twelve moths ago and Oslofjord could be a band to watch out for under the talented Selmer Simonsen. Krohnengen should be well in with a good shout too if they can repeat the form of last year, whilst our dark horse is Tertnes.
 
1. Stavanger
2. Eikanger Bjorsvik
3. Manger Musikklag
4. Sandefjord
5. Oslofjord
6. Krohnengen

Dark Horse: Tertnes

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