2010 Norwegian National Championships - Introduction to Bergen

3-Feb-2010

The first major National Championship takes place this weekend in Norway. 4BR will be there to find out who comes top in Bergen.


GrieghallenThe first major domestic European title of the year will be decided this weekend in Norway, where Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag will try and claim a hat trick of National Championship victories at the magnificent Grieghallen in Bergen.

Growing

74 bands will descend on the iconic venue, and it is an indication of the growing strength in depth of banding in the country that no less than 24 bands will compete in the Fourth Division.

There is an ‘Open’ class for the first time too, where two bands will perform on Friday morning as an aperitif for the contests that follow. Once again Norwegian banding numbers continue to grow.

There is added interest this year as for the first time in the contest’s history there will be open adjudication in the Elite Section.  

Mirror

The ‘opening up’ process has mirrored the way in which the professional organisation of these Championships has been undertaken over the last decade. The inclusive nature of the contest (from the well thought out rules to the fun and games of the Brass Night Party) is one that encourages transparency.

It is hard to find a dissenting voice over the demise of the box, although that may change depending on the result reached by Maurice Hamers, John Wallace and Torodd Wigum!

Interestingly, one of the great ‘open’ supporters from the UK, euphonium star Steven Mead is in town as guest soloist at the pre results concert, so it will be interesting to hear what he thinks about Norway’s decision.

One thing is for certain - the progressive attitude to organisation (the draws and own choice selections are published in advance) is also mirrored in the music that is played.

Nowhere

This year the Elite bands will perform ‘Sketches from Nowhere’ by Thomas Doss as the set work on the Friday, before they launch into their eclectic own choice selections on Saturday.

The set work is a joint commission that has already been heard in Europe late last year and has proved to be an interesting and demanding work of technical as well as musical character. Whoever wins this weekend will get another dose of Doss come Linz, as the composer has written the set work for the European Championships.

Norway hasn’t produced a European Champion now for over two decades, so whoever gets the nod will carry great expectations with them for 2012, if Eikanger comes up empty handed in Linz in May.

Great joys

One of the great joys of coming to Bergen is the scope of the music played – and although ambition sometimes exceeds raw talent at times, the sense of musical adventure gives the whole event real musical vibrancy.

As usual in the 4th Division there is the added bonus of listening to some truly remarkable performers enjoying themselves in ‘semi retirement’. Last year it was the former players of Eikanger Bjorsvik, under the guise of Bjorsvik Brass to play ‘Journey into Freedom’.

In truth it was more than a little unfair on the rest of the competitors, but despite the eight point winning margin (it could have been 15), their participation was not seen as cheap ‘pot hunting’ by their rivals, but more of a celebration that after years of elite banding, these players still wanted to enjoy the contesting experience and put something back into the Norwegian movement.

Strong contenders

Elsewhere there are strong contenders in the other divisions, with the standard of 1st Division bands as good if not better than the vast majority of Championship outfits in the UK. This is a First Section that does exactly what it should.

In the Elite Section we have some truly fearsome musical challenges on offer with the own choice selections of the bands – from Edward Gregson’s ‘The Trumpets of the Angels’ to ‘Titan’s Progress’, ‘Prague’ and a new version of Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen’s awesome ‘Seid’.

No wonder it is hard to get a seat in the hall on the Saturday, which could be a real problem this year as the event is not being broadcast.

Kick off

It all kicks off on Friday with the 2nd Division contest starting at 10.30am in the Grieghallen, with the 3rd Division taking place in the Peer Gynt Hall at 4.00pm. The ten Elite bands take to the stage at 4.30pm.  

On Saturday, the First Division contest starts at 9.00am at the Grieghallen with the 4th Division taking place at the same time in the Peer Gynt Hall. The climax of the weekend starts around 2.45pm with the own choice selections from the Elite contenders, with the results announced around 8.30pm.

4BR will be there as usual, providing live commentary on the Elite bands as well as bringing you a flavour of what is going on over the two days through the 4BR site, Twitter and Twit Pic.

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