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2012 Norwegian National Championship — Bergen Blog

From Moby Dick to Bach and the Brekker Brothers — the 4BR Daily Blog covers it all in Bergen...

Saturday 11th

A day when the two leviathans of Norwegian banding crashed together like a Nordic setting of ‘Moby Dick’.

It was some of the most compelling contesting action you would be lucky enough to witness anywhere in the banding world – with the great white uncatchable beast that is Eikanger, managing once more to defeat the Herculean efforts of the good ship Manger.

However hard they try at present – the European champion is doomed like Captain Ahab to be defeated by their great foe.  It was a crushing result for them - an invigorating one for the defending title holders.

Both bands head for Rotterdam ever more determined to bring to European Championship Trophy back to Norway once more – although they were given a sharp reminder that an even bigger behemoth awaits them in the frightening shape of Brass Band Oberosterreich.

At the Gala Concert the Austrians playfully showed off the full array of their razor sharp pearly white teeth - like a benevolent great white shark playing cat and mouse with their intended prey.

Even the most phlegmatic Norwegian band supporter would have felt a chill run down their spine after hearing Lito Fontana, Christian Hollenstiener and Hans Gansch on this form – not to mention the rest of the band under the direction of Hannes Buchegger.

It rounded off the whole weekend with the type of musical flourish that makes the expense of coming out here worth every Krone – and a reminder that perhaps an even greater battle could well take place in that other famous fishing port of Rotterdam at the beginning of May.

Even Captain Ahab would look forward to that...

Friday 10th

A long day at the Grieghallen – but an immensely enjoyable one.

The standard of paying in the Elite Division was excellent – helped by a superb set work by Svein Henrik Giske inspired by Bach, but not as you know it.

‘Goldberg 2012’ inhabited a sound world of skunk funk and the Brecker Brothers, late Sting before he got into tantric sex and even a few bars of ‘The Lost Chord’.

It proved to be an intriguing, engrossing kaleidoscopic mix: One day Svein was sat at the organ... and came up with this cracker.  

The Bach was there of course – lovely snippets and re-working of many of the 30 variations of the original ‘Goldberg Variations’.

Two of the sections of the work were also inspired by the composer’s close family – the birth of his third child and the death of his father – the latter written with chilling sense of melancholia.

Eikanger and Stavanger were a class apart - but it was Manger who touched a level of musicality that left you breathless in appreciation.

 On the other hand the Norwegians still haven’t got a clue how to play that other great ‘B’ of the musical banding world – Eric Ball.

It was like a dyslexic trying to decipher the Rosetta Stone. Give them skunk funk and they are as happy as a student who has found a free reefer under the bad, but put a yellowing copy of ‘Tournament for Brass’ under their noses and they go cold turkey.  

From Bach to Ball – Bergen on Friday had it all.

Thursday 9th

The long early morning drive from South Wales to Gatwick airport takes longer than the flight itself to Bergen.

The weather when we get there is cruelly bitter – a dusting of snow covers the tops of the chocolate box houses on the sides of the fjord, but the wind stings your face like a jab from a middleweight boxer even on the short walk from the aircraft to the terminal building.

The bands are making their way here too – 77 in all this year, with the action starting at 10.30am on Friday morning. 

The local hotels are full with players young and old and the sounds of final preparations on own choice selections filter through the crisp night air as we make our way back from enjoying a quick pint at the Musician’s Bar.

There’s a quiet air of anticipation about the place – and the Grieghallen is lit up like a ship moored in dock in Bergen harbour waiting its passengers.

It all starts tomorrow and it should prove to be a cracker. 

That should keep us warm.

Contest: London & SC Regional Championships

Saturday 17 March • Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre, Lytton Way, Stevenage SG1 1LZ

Contest: Welsh Regional Championships

Saturday 17 March • Brangwyn Hall, The Guildhall, Swansea SA1 4PE

Contest: North of England Regional Championships

Saturday 17 March • The Gala Theatre, 1 Millennium Place, Durham DH1 1WA

Black Dyke Band - Victoria Hall, Bolton

Saturday 17 March • 37 Knowsley St, Bolton BL1 2AS

Contest: London & SC REgional Championships

Sunday 18 March • Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre, Lytton Way, Stevenage SG1 1LZ

Wakefield Metropolitan Brass Band

March 17 • Musical Director due to work commitments, the Wakefield Metropolitan Band seeks applications for this position. 1st section band with a 5th place at the areas. We require someone with the drive and ambition to take us to the next level is this you ?

Walsall Brass Band

March 17 • WALSALL BRASS BAND are looking for Cornets, 1st Baritone, 2nd Euphonium, Bb Bass and Percusion.

Cheshire Constabulary Band

March 17 • We are urgently looking for a Tenor Horn, Cornet and snare drummers (for our Corps of drums). Smart friendly well run band with varied engagements, just one rehearsal a week. Open to all walks of life ( you do not need to work for the Police!)

Paul Andrews

Conductor, Band trainer, Adjudicator, Instrument Repairer - Brasstoff