2005 Norwegian Brass Band Championships - Preview: First Division


4BR casts its eye over the 12 bands hoping to make the step up and join the Elite bands in Norway this weekend.

This has all the makings of a very interesting contest, and in many ways it is very much like the First Section in the UK, where there a whole raft of bands who are comfortable enough at this level, but are possibly not quite good enough to make a mark in the section above. We therefore get quite a few bands making one year sojourns into the Elite Section only to come back the next year.              
Plenty of talented players though, and this year quite a few familiar faces to those in the UK are heading the bands here. Morten E. Hansen was last seen in the UK with the Mount Charles Band at Spennymoor and he will once again been seen with the Beaumaris Band at the Welsh Regional Championships, whilst Frans violet can show a CV that has a European Championship win on it as well as high placings at the British Open and National Finals. Gareth Pritchard is no stranger on either side of the North Sea and has four National titles to his name here, whilst Michael Antrobus is perhaps the most experienced man with a baton here as he has been living in the country for man a year and can also boast two national victories including one in the top section in 1983.  

The home grown talent shouldn’t be discounted either with Reid Gilje a popular and successful conductor with the likes of Eikanger who he took last year and Thorbjorn Lunde a double national winner in the Second Division.

As for their selections for the contest here, there is certainly an eclectic mix, which also serve to show that some bands are possibly being more ambitious than others. We therefore get everything from Gilbert Vinter’s ‘Spectrum’ and Eric Ball’s ‘Journey Into Freedom’, right through to the modern classics of  ‘Montage’ and ‘Dances and Arias’ – both of which were used in the UK at the very top level last year. Some bands are ambitious aren’t they?

It should make for a fine contest then, and one that should be closely fought over. Find out who we think is going to win at the end of the article.

Morten HansenAlexander Brass Band
Morten E. Hansen
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: =5th (Morten E. Hansen)
2003: 10th Elite Division  (Morten Hansen)
2002: Winners 1st Division
2001: Winners 2nd Division
2000: 8th in 2nd Division
1999: 11th in 1st Division
1998: 7th in 1st Division
1997: 1st in 2nd Division
1996: 3rd in 2nd Division
1995: 1st in 3rd Division

Overall Record:
Winners of 1st Division in 2002
2nd Division in 2001 and 1997
3rd Division in 1995

Last Year: =5th 

Alexander have seen both the ups and downs at this contest over the years, from a quick stay in the Elite Division in 2003 right down to the Third way back in 1995. They are now it seems quite secure at this level after a couple of quick promotions and under Morten Hansen they should be confident of doing well here this year and put behind them the poor result from the SIDDIS Contest where they were placed 13th.  

Askøy Brass Band
  Egil Magnussen
Norwegian Ranking: 

National Record:
2004: 3rd (Tom Brevik)
2003: 3rd
2002: 2nd 1st Division
2001: 6th
2000: 11th
1999: 3rd
1998: 7th
1997: 7th
1996: 2nd
1995: 7th
1994: 10th

Last Year: 3rd

On paper Askøy should be one of the favourites to do well here this year after coming third for the second year in a row in 2004. That was under the direction of Tom Brevik, but for this years attempt they have opted for the services of  Egil Magnussen who took Flesland in the Second Division last year to come 9th.  They will be looking for another podium place at least then this time and to show the form of the SIDDIS Contest where they were placed 4th.

Brøttum Musikkforening
Thorbjørn Lunde
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: 9th (Thorbjørn Lunde)
2003: Winners Second Division
2002: 8th in 1st Division
2001: 3rd
2000: 9th in 1st Division

Last Year: 9th

Last year Brøttum came 9th here, at their first attempt after gaining promotion from the Second Division. That seemed to be OK, but they will surely be hoping to put in a good performance here and see if they can return once more to the First Division where they last spent a season in 2002.

Kleppe Musikklag
Eirik Gjerdevik
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: =5th (Eirik Gjerdevik)
2003: 6th
2002: 4th
2001: 12th
2000: 7th

Last Year: =5th 

Kleppe are nothing if not consistent it seems, and last year they came equal fifth under the baton of Eirik Gjerdevik. They will hope to improve on the form from the SIDDIS Contest in November though where they could only manage 10th place.

Oslo Brass Band
Sverre S. Olsrud
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: 2nd in Second Division (Sverre S. Olsrud)
2003: 3rd
2002: 1st in 3rd Division
2001: DNE
2000: DNE

Last Year: 2nd in Second Division

Olso are a band that is moving steadily up the ranks it seems and this year they make their debut in the First Division. If they can repeat the form they have shown here over the last few years then they should be more than capable of making a mark here, especially as they were placed 6th at the SIDDIS Contest in the Top Section.

Ørskog Brass
Michael Antrobus
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: 4th  (Michael Antrobus)
2003: 2nd Second Division
2002: 7th
2001: 11th in 1st Division
2000: 2nd

Last Year: 4th

Micahel Antrobus is working his magic her it seems, and last year they made a fine impression when they came 4th, just a year after they were promoted from the Second Division.  No appearance at the SIDDIS Contest, so what form will they bring to the contest stage here?

Oster Brass
Reid Gilje
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: 10th (Oddmund Hjartaker)
2003: 11th
2002: 10th
2001: 8th
2000: 10th
1999: 7th

Last Year: 10th

Oster will certainly be looking for a good result here as in the past few years they haven’t really made an impression and have found themselves towards the bottom of the prize list. 10th last time out meant they only beat the one band, but they did come 6th at the SIDDIS Contest and they will be hoping to bring that type of form here this year.

Gareth PritchardRadøy Brass
Gareth Pritchard
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: 2nd (Gareth Pritchard)
2003: 5th
2002: 9th
2001: 5th
2000: 5th
1999: 5th

Last Year: 2nd 

Possibly the favourites for the title after coming runner sup here last year behind the promoted Sola and then going on to come just behind them again at the SIDDIS Contest last November. Gareth Pritchard knows what it takes to be successful here, so they should feature highly of things go to plan.  

Sørum Musikklag
Erling J. Myrseth
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: =7th (Trond Elnes)
2003 – 7th
2002 – 7th
2001 – 2nd in 2nd Division
2000 – Joint 5th in 2nd Division

Last Year: =7th

Can Sørum rid themselves of the 7th place syndrome that has seen the band just finish outside the top six places for the past three years. We hope so, and we think they may look for an improvement this year, although they will have to perform better than they did at the SIDDIS Contest where they could only manage 11th place.

Tertnes Brass
Conductor: Bjorn Breistein
4BR Ranking:
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
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
Winners Second Division 1984 and 1985

Last Year: 10th in Elite Section

Own Choice Selection
2003: Variations on an Enigma

The other possible favourites for the title, even though they were relegated back to this section after finishing last in the Elite Section in 2004. That was perhaps a bit harsh on them as they were up against some top class bands, so they should be confident of doing well here and making a swift return.  Wait and see.

Frans VioletTomra Brass Band
Frans Violet
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: =7th (Arnfinn Dalhaug)
2003 – 2nd
2002 – 3rd
2001 – 4th
2000 – 8th in Elite Division
1999 – 1st in 1st Division

Last Year: =7th 

Frans Violet is a very experienced MD at the very highest level and he should bring with him all those good tips he has accumulated over the years to Tomra for their attempt to finish higher than the 7th place of 2004. If his brand of very musical playing has rubbed off on the band they could well be in a position to challenge for the top honours. 

Vennesla Kristne Brass
David Tellefsen
Norwegian Ranking:

National Record:
2004: Winners of Second Division (David Tellefsen)
2003: 10th in First Division
2002: 1st in 2nd Division
2001: 10th in 1st Division
2000: 3rd
1999: 4th

Last Year: Winners of Second Division

Last years winners of the Second Division title back up a level after just the one year in the lower division. That was a sure sign that they had ore than enough quality about them, and therefore they will be keen to show that form here this year. Third place at the SIDDIS Contest confirmed that they were in good fettle in November and if they bring that here this weekend they could very be celebrating again. 

4BR Prediction:

A close run thing this one, but a few of the band do stand out and we think a win for may be on the books for Tertnes as we think they will have the experience and a bit of class about them to pip the rest of the field here. Behind them, and close on their shirt tails should be Radøy Brass after the type of year they have been having, whilst the last podium place could well go to Askøy. Alexander should put in a good show to make it comfortably into the top six and even further up the prize list whilst the final two places should be taken by Vennesla and Tomra with our dark horse being Oster.

1. Tertnes Brass
2. Radøy Brass
3. Askøy Brass
4. Alexander Brass
5. Vennesla Kristne Brass
6. Tomra Brass

Dark Horse: Oster Brass

Own Choice Selections:
A London Overture - Philip Sparke 
Blitz Opus 65 -  Derek Bourgeois
Chivalry - Martin Ellerby
Dances and Arias - Edward Gregson
English Heritage - George Lloyd  
Five Blooms in a Welsh Garden - Gareth Wood   
Journey into Freedom - Eric Ball     
Montage - Peter Graham  
Spectrum - Gilbert Vinter
Tallis Variations -  Philip Sparke 
The Holy War - Ray Steadman-Allen    
Whitsun Wakes - Michael Ball  

2004 Result:

Adjudicator(s): Jan Roger Øren og Nils Eivind Nikolaisen
Test piece: Own Choice

1. Sola Brass Band Steve Bastable  = 94
2. Radøy Brass Gareth Pritchard  = 93
3. Askøy Brass Band Tom Brevik =  92
4. Ørskog Brass Michael Antrobus  = 91
=5. Alexander Brass Band Morten E. Hansen = 90
=5. Kleppe Musikklag Eirik Gjerdevik  = 90
=7. Svrum Musikklag Trond Elnes  = 89
=7. Tomra Brass Band Arnfinn Dalhaug  = 89
9. Brøttum Brass Thorbjørn Lunde  = 87
10. Oster Brass Oddmund Hjartåker  = 85
11. Hornorkesteret Stavanger Russell Gray = 84

The Winners:

2004: Sola Brass Band
2003: Tertnes Brass
2002: Alexander Brass Band
2001: Ila Brass Band
2000: Oslofjord
1999: Tomra
1998: Molde
1997: Radoy
1996: Sandefjord Brass Symposium
1995: Sagvag Musikklag
1994: Radoy
1993: Tomra

Winning Conductor:

2004: Steve Bastable
2003: John Hinckley
2002: Philip Sparke
2001: Bjorn Sagstad
2000: Selmer Simonsen
1999: Arnfinn Dalhaug
1998: Nils Magne Abelseth
1997: Helge Haukas
1996: Gareth Pritchard
1995: Jan Magne Olsen
1994: Gareth Pritchard
1993: Roy Newsome

Winning Own Choice Selection

2004: Chivalry
2003: Variations on an Enigma
2002: Tallis Variations
2001: Masquerade
2000: English Heritage
1999: Lowry Sketchbook
1998: Leonardo
1997: Journey Into Freedom
1996: Partita
1995: Three Figures
1994: Royal Parks
1993: The Plantagenets


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