2006 Norwegian National Championships - Retrospective: Third Division


It was a triumphant Voyage of Discovery from the Jolster Musikklag Band in the Third Division as they took the honours against their rivals.

The top three prize winners await the announcement of the final results

The third contest to take place on the Friday was appropriately enough, the Third Division, which started at around the same time as the Elite Section in the Peer Gynt Hall. Unfortunately that meant that we had to rely on one of the friendly, but informed members of the press pack with us to pass on their judgements on the 12 performances, as we were tied up elsewhere.

The reports came back to us thick and fast though, and in general agreement with what the judges Rune Bergmann and Geir Ulseth made. The contest itself was played out in the ‘open' so to speak, with the judges perched on a table at the back of the sloping auditorium. Each of the bands took to the stage during which time the compere (who had the ability to crack a good Norwegian joke it seemed between every performance) read out their potted biographies. As we have said before, it made for a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and one which the full hall (there were not too many seats available throughout) certainly enjoyed.

The eventual winners were declared as Jolster Musikklag directed by Arvid Anthum, just a point ahead of Gjesdal Brass Band conducted by Christian Tenfjord, who were in turn three points ahead of Rong Brass led by Reid Gilje.

The standard of the performances, especially the top two was very high indeed, and it was nice to report that this year the own choices made were chosen with the bands capabilities rather than ambitions very much in mind.

The winners Jolster picked ‘Voyage of Discovery' (as did the winners of the Fourth Section, but under slightly different circumstances), and even though a number of bands in the UK are complaining that it is perhaps a touch too difficult for them, it certainly didn't sound as such here. This was a powerful and detailed account from a band to be fair should have been playing in a higher division. That is not their fault of course, but it did make the judges choice very much easier by what was on show here. It was a very good account indeed, and wouldn't have been out of place with some of the best bands in the UK who are to tackle it next month.

The same could also be said of the runners up, Gjesdal Brass Band, who picked ‘Festivity' by Leslie Condon and produced a well balanced and very detailed account under the talented Mr Tenfjord. Once more it made the judges job considerably easier as they displayed a fine bass led sound and some cracking individual contributions. Second place was well deserved.

Behind the top two came Rong Brass directed by Eikanger's Reid Gilje with a lovely sense of understated control in their performance of ‘Purcell Variations' by Kenneth Downie. This was the best of the rest, and although it didn't have the security of technique of the top two performances it was nevertheless a fine account and brought their quality bass quartet the prize as best section.  

Fourth spot was taken by Laksevag Musikkforening conducted by Tom Brevik, who is something of a father figure here in Norway (although he still sports hair the colour of a raven's wing). He first won the Elite Section as a conductor way back in 1980, and although he is no longer in the mainstream battling it out for the very top awards, his class and sense of musicality has not been diminished. Their ‘Land of the Long White Cloud' had its up and downs for certain, but it was also so broadly set out that the music flowed as it should.

Michael Antrobus was having a busy weekend for sure (he took three bands all told), but he made sure Hasle Brass were on decent form with their performance of ‘Land of the Long White Cloud' which as was shown with Laksevag is a piece that must be approached with care and attention. Thankfully for the most part they did and as a result they picked up 5th place.

The final podium place was taken by Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn directed by the very talented Espen Westbye, who is usually seen and heard playing brilliantly on soprano with Stavanger. The combination chose to play ‘Excalibur' by Jan van der Roost, a piece that takes some playing in the best of hands, and although they tired towards the end it was nonetheless a effort with much to commend, with the bands euph player taking the individual award as best player in the contest.  

Behind the top six places the standard did start to vary, but there were plenty of decent efforts that found a favourable response with the audience if not the judges.

Fagernes Musikkorps and Gjorvik ByBrass came in seventh and eighth with varying performances of ‘The Plantagenets', which interestingly fell foul of much the same mistakes of style and technique. The rising fanfares at the beginning caught solo players out, whilst the dislocated style in much of the rest of the piece was at times over accentuated so that the flow was lost. Perhaps the piece was a bit too much for them both, but they also both got close to conquering it too.

It is always nice to hear Dean Goffin's ‘Rhapsody in Brass', but it is a piece that although now over 60 years of age has the ability to shoot down it potential victims in flames, much like Stuker dive bombers did to allied tanks in the Libyan desert where it was composed in the Second World War.  This time Austrheim/Lindas Musikklag suffered a few too many causalities and had to be content with 9th place.

Skui Brassband under Henrik Dalhaug took 10th place with a slightly under-whelming performance of ‘Renaissance' by Peter Graham that came and went without making much of an impression, whilst Nes Musikkforening under Andres Halla possibly picked too ambitious a choice with Stephen Bulla's ‘Firestorm' that may have appeared to have been a good choice on paper but wasn't come the contest stage. Band and MD got their fingers burnt here.

Finally, Skodje Ungdomskorps under Gary McPhee whose performance of ‘Endeavour' by Philip Sparke possibly deserved higher than it came for both the effort and endeavour of the performers and for the fact that the MD allowed the music to flow even when the technical obstacles were taking a few too many victims.

Iwan Fox


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