2006 Norwegian National 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.

Grieg HallThis 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, such as Tertnes who this year are in the Elite Division but have yo–yo'd back and firth in recent times.              
Plenty of talented players though, and this year quite a few familiar faces to those in the UK are heading the bands here such as Gareth Pritchard, Morten Hansen and Frans Violet. Michael Antrobus takes his second band of the weekend here (he has three in total), whilst Reid Gilje, the talented conductor associated with Eikanger also steps up to the mark once more. 

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.  It would take a brave band in the UK to tackle ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth' or ‘Variations on an Enigma', but it is also nice to report the airing of a couple of older classics such as ‘Paganini Variations' and ‘Journey into Freedom'. The really interesting choices come with ‘Babylonian Tablets' by Geir Davidsen and ‘Between the Two Rivers' by Philip Sparke, which was recently heard in Huddersfield under Philip McCann and his students.

The adjudicators to impress this year are Karl Ole Midtbø and Jens T. Larsen.

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.  

Alexander Brass Band
Morten E. Hansen

National Record:
2005: 9th (Morten E. Hansen)
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 but did suffer somewhat last year when they came 9th performing Ray Steadman Allen's ‘The Holy War' – a dark and richly coloured work that didn't find favour with the adjudicators, but was in a traditional sense a very neat performance.   

They should fancy their chances here under the experienced Morten Hansen and will be looking to improve on the 8th place they achieved at SIDDIS.  

Askøy Brass Band
  Helge Haukas

National Record:
2005: 3rd (Egil Magnussen)
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 third year in a row in 2005. That was under the direction of Egil Magnussen, but for this year's attempt they have opted for the services of Helge Haukas who will also be busy with Jaren in the Elite Section. 

They will be looking for another podium place this time and to enhance on their performance at SIDDIS where they came 6th. 

Brøttum Musikkforening
Thorbjørn Lunde

National Record:
2005: 6th (Thorbjørn Lunde)
2004: 9th (Thorbjørn Lunde)
2003: Winners Second Division
2002: 8th in 1st Division
2001: 3rd
2000: 9th in 1st Division

Last Year: 6th

Last year Brøttum came 6th here playing Peter Graham's Montage no less and that was a pretty good effort - even if it was a touch ambitious. It will be interesting to see how they go this time then and what choice they make. 

Haukås Musikklag
Thor-Arne Pedersen

National Record:
2005: Winners of Division 2 (Thor – Arne Pedersen)
2004: Winners of Division 3 (Thor – Arne Pedersen)
2003: 11th
2002: 4th
2001: 13th in 2nd Division
2000: Joint 9th in Second Division

Last Year: Winners of Division 2

The Division Two Champions return once more to the higher section and will be one of the bands to look out for if they can maintain their remarkable run of form here this year. Thor-Arne Pedersen is a fine musician and has gathered a great team around him although they will want to up their game a bit from SIDDIS where they came bottom of the heap in this section.  

Kleppe Musikklag
Eirik Gjerdevik

National Record:
2005: 4th (Eirik Gjerdevik)
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 fourth under the baton of Eirik Gjerdevik. They will be looking to maintain the form they showed last year when they gave a fine performance of ‘Chivarly', whilst they showed that they could be on top form when they came 3rd at SIDDIS last year. Time for a podium place then?   

Oslo Brass Band
Michael Antrobus

National Record:
2005: 7th (Sverre S. Olsrud)
2004: 2nd in Second Division (Sverre S. Olsrud)
2003: 3rd
2002: 1st in 3rd Division
2001: DNE
2000: DNE

Last Year: 7th

Olso are a band that is moving steadily up the ranks it seems and last year they more than held their own with a solid if ambitious performance of ‘Blitz'. Michael Antrobus takes over the reins this time and perhaps we may see a more considered approach to their playing that could benefit them even more.   

Oster Brass
Reid Gilje

National Record:
2005: 5th (Reid Gilje)
2004: 10th (Oddmund Hjartaker)
2003: 11th
2002: 10th
2001: 8th
2000: 10th
1999: 7th

Last Year: 5th

Oster will be looking to continue the rich vein of form they hit at SIDDIS last year when they took the First Division title and built upon the solid showing they produced here last year when they performed ‘English Heritage' - memorable for the principal cornet's exemplary playing. Reif Gilje takes the helm as Frode Rydland who took them at SIIDS is playing with Eikanger and we think they could well be the band to beat.  

Radøy Brass
Gareth Pritchard

National Record:
2005: 8th (Gareth Pritchard)
2004: 2nd (Gareth Pritchard)
2003: 5th
2002: 9th
2001: 5th
2000: 5th
1999: 5th

Last Year: 8th 

Radoy were a bit unlucky here last year when many people had tipped them to take the title before and after the contest began. It wasn't to be though and their performance of ‘A London Overture' was lost a little on the judges. A pity that because it had real quality hallmarks. They have showed at SIDDIS that this is well and truly behind them where they came runners-up. Gareth Pritchard will fancy his chances of doing well here by picking up another national title to add to his CV.  

Sola Brass Band
Rune Gundersen

National Record:
2005: 10th in Elite Section (Benny Wiame)
2004: Winners of First Division (Steve Bastable)
2003: 4th in First Division (Steve Bastable)
2002: 6th in First Division (N/K)
2001: 3rd in First Division (Russell Gray)
2000: Winners in 2nd Division (Russell Gray)
1999: 9th (Melvin White)
1998: N/K
1997: 12th in First Division (T. Anundsen)
1996: 3rd in First Division (N/K)
1995: 4th in First Division (Melvin White)
1994: 7th  (Melvin White)
1993: 7th  (James Scott)

Overall Record:
Winners of First Division 2004
Winners of Second Division 2000

Last Year:
10th in Elite Section
Sola return to the First Division after giving it a real good crack with the big boys last year in the Elite league. Benny Wiame took them then and they put up a good fist of it with a decent 6th place on the set work but a tired 10th on their own choice selection of ‘Between the Moon and Mexico'. 

The talented Rune Gundersen has since taken over at the helm and he showed that the potential is there with the band when they came 6th at SIDDIS. If they get a touch of luck we think they could well feature highly here again and press for another return to the top section. 

Tomra Brass Band
Frans Violet

National Record:
2005: 2nd (Frans Violet)
2004: =7th (Arnfinn Dalhaug)
2003 – 2nd
2002 – 3rd
2001 – 4th
2000 – 8th in Elite Division
1999 – 1st in 1st Division

Last Year: 2nd 

Frans Violet brought all his talent and knowledge to bear on Tomra last year as they came runners-up and showed the type of quality that wouldn't have gone a miss in the Elite Section. Their performance of ‘Whitsun Wakes' was excellent, although it did benefit from a bit of help from Mr Van Looveren on cornet. If he has brought the same commitment and the odd sub this time, they should be up amongst the prizes once more. 

Tromsø Brass
Robert Jensen

National Record:
2005: 2nd in Second Division (Robert Jensen)
2004: 4th (Robert Jensen)
2003: 7th 
2002: 8th
2001: N/K
2000: 3rd

Last Year: 2nd in Second Division

A band continuing to move in the right direction for sure after they gained promotion from the Second Division flowwing their runners-up spot last year.  Then they sounded like a very compact and talented outfit, very well directed and if they can repeat that form here again they should more than hold their own for sure.  

Vennesla Kristne Brass
David Tellefsen
National Record:
2005: 10th (David Tellefsen)
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: 10th

The 2004 winners of the Second Division found life a little tougher in the higher section last year but just about held their own. Their performance of ‘Journey into Freedom' was technically very good, but lacked a real understanding of the music and its inspiration (something they are not alone with out here - even in the Elite Section). Hopefully they have eradicated those problems and will be able to show off their talents on a more suitable piece, whilst they will also be hoping to improve their form from the 12th place they achieved at SIDDIS. 

Own Choice Selections:
Babylonian Tablets - Geir Davidsen
Between the Two Rivers - Philip Sparke
Chivalry - Martin Ellerby
Dances and Arias - Edward Gregson
English Heritage - George Lloyd
Journey Into Freedom - Eric Ball
Journey to the Centre of the Earth - Peter Graham
Odyssey - Kevin Norbury
Paganini Variations - Philip Wilby
Tallis Variations - Philip Sparke
The Pilgrim - Kenneth Downie
Variations on an Enigma - Philip Sparke

4BR Prediction:

A close run thing this one, but a few of the bands do stand out. We think a win for may be on the books for Oster as they will have the experience and a bit of class about them to pip the rest of the field.

Behind them and close on their shirt tails should be Radøy Brass, whilst the last podium place could well go to Alexander. Sola should also challenge strongly and the final top six places could well be fought over by Tomra and Askoy. Dark horses for us are Kleppe.

1. Oster Brass
2. Radøy Brass
3. Alexander Brass
4. Sola Brass Band
5. Tomra
6. Askoy

Dark Horse: Kleppe Musikklag

2005 Result:

1.  Tertnes Brass Bjørn (E. Breistein) - 97
2.  Tomra Brass Band (Frans Violet) - 95
3.  Askøy Brass Band (Egil Magnussen) - 92
4.  Kleppe Musikklag (Eirik Gjerdevik) - 91
5.  Oster Brass (Reid Gilje) - 90
6.  Brøttum Brass (Thorbjørn Lunde) - 89
7.  Oslo Brass Band (Sverre Olsrud) - 88
8.  Radøy Brass (Gareth Pritchard) - 87.5
9.  Alexander Brass Band (Morten E. Hansen) - 87
10.  Vennesla Kristne Brass (David Tellefsen) - 86
11.  Sørum Musikklag Erling (J. Myrseth) - 85
12.  Ørskog Brass (Michael Antrobus) - 83

Soloist prize: Solo cornet, Tertnes BrassBest section: Percussion, Tertnes Brass


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