2007 Norwegian National Championships - Elite Division


4BR will be in Bergen to listen to the very best bands in Norway battle it out to see who will represent them at the 2008 European Championships. Can Stavanger retain their title or can someone else stop them?

GeighallenElite Section

Set Work: Cloudcatcher Fells – John McCabe 
Friday 9th February (16.30pm)

Own Choice:
Saturday 10th February (14.45pm)

Maurice Hamers, Aline Nistad, Torgny Hanson
This should prove to be a tremendous contest yet again this year. The Elite bands of Norway will be faced with a classic choice as their set work with John McCabe's ‘Cloudcatcher Fells' to be played on the Friday evening, whilst all 10 bands have chosen separate works as their own choice selections for the Saturday.

As always the choices made range in style and in historical time but all are fiercely difficult. These include the 2006 British Open test piece, ‘Vienna Nights' and 2006 English National work, ‘Dances and Alleluias', as well as three former European Championship test pieces in the shape of ‘Seid' (1996), ‘Chain' (2002) and 'Aubade – Dawn Songs of the Fabulous Birds' (2003). Other choices include ‘Harrison's Dream', ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth' ‘Ginnungagap …seeming emptiness', ‘Eden' and the interesting new work, ‘Ascending – learning how to fly' by the Norwegian composer Stig Nordhagen.

Amazingly ‘Cloudcatcher Fells' hasn't been used before here as the set work, but a number of bands have performed it since it was used in the UK almost 25 years ago at the Nationals Championships. Given the difficulties it poses for even the very best bands in terms of subtle balance, dynamic variance, colour and timbre it could well destroy more than a few bands chances of glory, especially if they choose to approach it in the same way many of them did when ‘Kensington Concerto' was the set work a few years ago.  Few bands that day understood what the piece was about.

That perhaps explains why yet again so many of the bands have opted for the British input from the conductors. All will have either played it or conducted it many times – with varying degrees of success and all will know exactly where its pitfalls lie from the ethereal beauty of ‘Angle Tarn' and ‘Grasmoor' to the dislocated angular rhythms of ‘Haystacks' and ‘Catstye Cam'. It is an immense work of great beauty when played well – but only when it is played well – otherwise it can sound as bleak and uninviting as a walk in the Lake District on a cold February morning armed only with a packed lunch and open toed sandals.  How many will come well prepared for a proper hike we wonder?

As ever there is a fair sprinkling of Brits abroad with Black Dyke's Dr Nicholas Childs leading Eikanger Bjorsvik, brother Dr Bob Childs heading the assault of Manger once more, Allan Withington with reigning champions Stavanger, Garry Cutt leading Sandefjord, Alan Morrison with Molde and ex pat Michael Antrobus with Oslofjord. European champion Frans Violet returns with last year's First Section winners Tomra.

Who will emerge victorious then after the two days? Find out at the bottom of the page… 

EikangerEikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag
  Dr Nicholas Childs
4BR Ranking:

National Record:
2006: 4th (Nicholas Childs)
2005: Winners (Nicholas Childs)
2004: 2nd (Reid Gilje)
2003: 2nd  (Nicholas Childs)
2002: 7th  (Howard Snell)
2001: Winners  (Nicholas Childs)
2000: 2nd  (Nicholas Childs)  
1999: Winners  (Nicholas Childs)
1998: 4th  (I. Bergby)
1997: 2nd  (Howard Snell)
1996: 2nd  (Howard Snell)
1995: 5th  (Howard Snell)
1994: 4th  (Howard Snell)
1993: Winners  (Howard Snell)
1992: 3rd  (Howard Snell)
1991: Winners  (Howard Snell)

Overall Record:
Winners in 1981, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1999, 2001, 2005

Last Year: 4th Overall: 5th on set work/2nd on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2006: Journey to the Centre of the Earth
2005: Concerto Grosso
2004: Concerto No 1 for Brass Band
2003: The Trumpets of the Angels
2002: Daphnis and Chloe

The 9 times winners will be coming to this years contest trying to regain the title they lost last year in somewhat controversial circumstances. Dr Nicholas Childs returns once more to conduct them for the 7th time.
Eikanger was formed in the 1960s and has been European Champions on two occasions as well as SIDDIS winners on 11 occasions, most recently last year.

Musically, Eikanger remain a class act, they were quite outstanding at the RNCM Festival of Brass just a few weeks ago, but they do sometimes forget about the practicalities of winning a brass band contest.  Their innate musicianship can also be their contesting Achilles heel. If they hit top form and use their heads and not their musical hearts then they could be unbeatable – if not, they may be beaten, again.

The undoubted favourites for certain, but then again, they were last year and just look what happened.  

ILAIla Brass Band
  Trond Korsgård
4BR Ranking:

National Record:
2006: 7th  (Trond Korsgård)
2005: 8th  (Catherine Winnes)
2004: 3rd (Thomas Rimul)
2003: 7th  (Bjorn Sagstad) 
2002: 8th  (Frank Renton)
2001: Winners of First Division  (Bjorn Sagstad) (prom)
2000: 7th  (Bjorn Sagstad)
1999: 5th  (Helge Haukas)
1998: 6th  (Nicholas Childs)
1997: 5th  (Nicholas Childs)
1996: 4th  (Ray Farr)
1995: 4th (Maurice Hamers)
1994: 3rd  (Maurice Hamers)
1993: 3rd  (Maurice Hamers)
1992: 7th   (Maurice Hamers)

Overall Record:
Winners 1989
Winners of First Division in 2001

Last Year:
7th Overall: 8th on set work/6th on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2006: Guovssahasat
2005: Montreux Wind Dances
2004: Exergy Re-Revisited
2003: Salamander
2002: Between the Moon and Mexico

The band hails from the large town of Trondheim and in 1989 they were the first band to break the early stranglehold of the "Anger" bands, Eikanger, Stavanger and Manger by winning the National title. This has been their only success and since then they have achieved three third places under Maurice Hamers in 1993 and 1994 and again in 2004 under Thomas Rimul to show for their attempts to repeat that historic feat under Karl Ole Midtboe in 1989.

They have been consistent performers though every year, although they did drop out of the Elite Division after coming 7th in 2000, only to return after winning the 1st Division under Bjorn Sagstad.

Last year they were pretty good on the test piece and made a brave choice with the ethnically inspired Guovssahasat, which was interesting if a little austere in nature. They didn't compete at SIDDIS but return with MD Trond Korsgård hoping to continue the upward direction in the results table.   

Krohnengen Band logoKrohnengen Brass Band
  Selmer Simonsen
4BR Ranking:

National Record:
2006: 9th (Allan Withington)
2005: 5th (Ray Farr)
2004: 7th  (Ray Farr)
2003: 6th  (Ray Farr)
2002: 2nd  (Ray Farr)  
2001: 3rd  (Ray Farr)  
2000: 3rd  (Ray Farr)  
1999: 2nd  (Ray Farr)  
1998: 7th  (Kim Lofthouse)
1997: 3rd  (K.O. Midtbo)
1996: 3rd  (K.O. Midtbo)
1995: 6th  (Allan Withington)
1994: 2nd  (K.O. Midtbo)
1993: 4th  (K.O. Midtbo)
1992: 4th  (N/K)

Overall Record:
Winners 1990
Second Division Winners 1986

Last Year:
9th Overall: 10th set work/ 4th own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2006: Music of the Spheres
2005: …Dove Descending
2004: Harrison's Dream
2003: Masquerade
2002: Revelation

Founded by former school members in 1969, Krohnengen made early progress under the tutelage of Allan Withington who directed them to the First Division title in 1986, whilst their 1990 win here was directed by Karl Ole Midtboe on "Blitz".

Up until last year they were one of the most consistent bands at the championships and in the past seven years they can boast two runners up places and two third prizes. Last year however they notched up their lowest placing since being promoted 20 years ago, all courtesy of a poor draw and plenty of bad luck on the set work, but a decent recovery on their own choice.

Selmer Simonsen takes over the baton this year and they showed some glimpses of form at SIDDIS where they came 6th. They will be looking for more here too.   

MangerManger Musikklag
  Dr. Robert Childs
4BR Ranking:

National Record:
2006: 2nd (Robert Childs)
2005: 2nd (Jesper Juul Sørensen)
2004: 5th (Jesper Juul Sørensen)
2003: 4th  (Allan Withington)
2002: Winners  (Allan Withington)
2001: 5th  (Allan Withington)
2000: 4th  (Allan Withington)
1999: 4th  (Allan Withington)
1998: 2nd  (David King)
1997: Winners (David King)
1996: Winners (David King)
1995: Winners (David King)
1994: Winners (David King)
1993: 2nd  (David King)
1992: 2nd

Overall Record:
Winners in 1980, 1983, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2002

Last Year:
2nd Overall: 3rd on set work/1st on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2006: Cantigus
2005: Harrison's Dream
2004: Paganini Variations
2003: Harmony Music
2002: Montage

Manger was founded in 1922 and have long been recognised as one of the premier Norwegian brass bands. They picked up the first of their 7 National titles way back in 1980 under the baton of Tom Brevik and that year went on to gain runners-up spot at the European Championships.

Since then they have won under Michael Antrobus in 1983 before an unprecedented run of four consecutive titles between 1994 and 1997 under David King. Their last win here was in 2002 under Allan Withington, but they have come close in the past two years in particular.
Last year they produced a strong performance on the set work and added to it with an absolute cracker on their own choice selection 'Cantigus' which provided the contest with a true highlight of musicality and technical excellence.  Dr Robert Childs returns once more to see if he can claim his first Norwegian title with the band and they seem to be in pretty good form after coming 3rd at SIDDIS last year.   

Molde Brass Band
  Alan Morrison
4BR Ranking:

National Record:
2006: 5th (Gary Cutt)
2005: 7th (Nigel Boddice)
2004: 4th (Alan Morrison)
2003: 5th  (Alan Morrison)
2002: 4th  (Alan Morison)
2001: 2nd in First Division (Alan Morrison) (prom)
2000: 4th in 1st Division (N/K)
1999: 7th (N. Albelseth/A. Morrison)
1998: Winners in First Division  (Nils Magne Abelseth)
1997: n/k
1996: 12th in First Division  (N/K)
1995: 7th in First Division (A. Dalhaug)

Overall Record:
Best of 4th in Elite Division in 2002 and 2004
Winners of First Division 1998

Last Year:
5th Overall: 6th on set work/ 5th on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2006: Ginnungagap
2005: Contest Music
2004: Concerto Grosso
2003: …..Dove Descending
2002: Harrison's Dream

Molde were formed in 1979 and they have worked their way up through the sections in Norway ever since. This is the sixth consecutive time they have played in the Elite Division and they will be keen to make further progress towards a possible podium place under the direction of Alan Morrison.

Last year they were pretty good on the set work with a well thought out performance, but they were very ambitious with their own choice selection, the huge Ginnungagap that very nearly came off but only really faltered as the stamina waned towards the end of the piece.

Alan Morrison returns this year and although they didn't play at SIDDIS they should be well prepared for their assault here for at least another top 6 place under the Brighouse MD.  

OsloOslofjord Brass
Michael Antrobus 
4BR Ranking:

National Record:
2006: 4th (Michael Antrobus)
2005: 9th (Garry Cutt)
2004: 9th (Christian Tenfjord)
2003: 8th  (Robert Childs)
2002: 5th  (Peter Parkes)
2001: 8th  (Selmer Simonsen)
2000: Winners of First Division (Selmer Simonsen)
1999: 8th  (J.P. Hannevik)
1998: 6th  (J.P. Hannevik)
1997: 2nd in First Division  (J.P. Hannevik)

Overall Record:
Best of 4th in Elite Division 2006
Winners of 1st Division 2000

Last Year:
4th Overall: 2nd on set work/ 8th on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2006: Whitsun Wakes
2005: Paganini Variations
2004: Montage 
2003: Revelation
2002: Contest Music

Just seven years after they were founded in 1995, Oslofjord finally came of age at the Norwegian Nationals by coming 5th at the 2002 Championships under the baton of Peter Parkes.

Since then they have held their own at the contest under a variety of different conductors, but last year they shocked just about everyone, including themselves, when they came 4th off the back of 2nd place on the set work and 8th place on their own choice selection ‘Whitsun Wakes'. That set work performance was certainly big and bold and at times perhaps lacked subtlety, but it worked, whilst the own choice selection was spoilt by too many unforced errors. 

It may be asking a lot of them to do that again, but Michael Antrobus may well have a few ticks up his sleeve to make sure they do, and they did come 5th at SIDDIS.  

Sandefjord Brass Symposium
  Garry Cutt
4BR Ranking:

National Record:
2006: 6th (Ray Farr)
2005: 3rd (Robert Childs)
2004: 6th (John Philip Hannevik)
2003: 3rd  (Garry Cutt)
2002: 6th (N/K)
2001: 4th  (Bryan Hurdley)
2000: Winners (Garry Cutt)
1999: 3rd  (Gareth Pritchard)
1998: Winners (Gareth Pritchard)
1997: 6th  (Gareth Pritchard)
1996: Winners in First Division (Gareth Pritchard) (prom)
1995: 3rd in First Division (Ray Farr)
1994: 3rd in First Division (Michael Antrobus)
1993: N/K
1992: 8th (N/K)

Overall Record:
Winners in 1998 and 2000
Winners First Division 1996

Last Year:
6th Overall:  7th on set work/ 6th on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2006: Music for the Moving Image
2005: St. Magnus
2004: Apocalypse
2003: Of Men and Mountains
2002: …Dove Descending

Sandefjord Brass Symposium were champions here both in 1998 under Gareth Pritchard and 2000 under the baton of Garry Cutt but since then they have floated around the top six without really showing the form to suggest they will win again.

Given their record of late then a podium place should be on the cards and the last time Garry Cutt was at the helm they did just that. Last year they were decent enough on the set work and things were well set to sparkle on their own choice, until it all just fizzled out somewhat to end.

No appearance at SIDDIS but never discount a band under the direction of Mr Cutt – if they play to form they should be up and around there come the prizes once more.

StavangerStavanger Brass Band.
  Allan Withington
4BR Ranking:

National Record:
2006: Winners (Russell Gray)
2005: 6th (David King)
2004: Winners (David King)
2003: Winners  (David King)
2002: 3rd  (Steve Bastable)
2001: 2nd  (Frank Renton)
2000: 5th  (Frank Renton)
1999: 6th  (Philip McCann)
1998: 3rd  (James Gourlay)
1997: 4th  (James Gourlay)
1996: 6th  (Garry Cutt)
1995: 3rd  (Garry Cutt)
1994: 5th  (Garry Cutt)
1993: 5th  (Richard Evans)
1992: Winners (Richard Evans)

Overall Record:
Winners in 1982, 1984, 1986, 1992, 2003, 2004, 2006

Last Year:
Winners Overall: 1st on set work/ 3rd on own choice

Own Choice Selection:
2006: Eden
2005: Music of the Spheres
2004: Masquerade
2003: Concerto Grosso
2002: Tristan Encounters

Stavanger were formed in 1980, but since that time they have won the National title on no less than seven occasions – 1982, 1984 and 1986 under Kjell E. Larsen, 1992 under the baton of Richard Evans,  2003 and 2004 under David King and again last year in what was Russell Gray's annus mirabilis.

Last year they were excellent over the two disciplines, even if they didn't quite really smack the nails into the opposition coffins as they would have hoped and they once again showed that they will be one of the bands to beat in coming runner up at SIDDIS under the baton of Allan Withington.

The partnership is reunited again here and that could be a bit of a masterstroke if they can gell. They should be one of the favourites and could well retain their title and book a place at the 2008 European in the process.  

TertnesTertnes Brass
Bjørn Breistein
4BR Ranking:

National Record:
2006: 8th (Bjørn Breistein)
2005: Winners of First Division (Bjorn Breistein)
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, 2005
Winners Second Division 1984 and 1985

Last Year:
8th Overall: 4th on set work/ 10th on own choice

Own Choice Selection
2006: Contest Music
2005: Dances and Arias
2004: …Dove Decending
2003: Variations on an Enigma

Tertnes seem to be a bit of a yo-yo band based on the past few years at the contest. Too good for the First Division, not good enough for the Elite.

However, they showed last year that they may have finally found their permanent feet here and if they knew it after the set work they were very much in the hunt for a podium place after coming fourth.  It wasn't to be though and they fell away somewhat with their rendition of ‘Contest Music' that was average to say the least.

A pity that, but it will show them that they now have nothing to fear here and an excellent 4th place at SIDDIS late last year showed just that.  Could be worth a few Krone as a dark horse. 

Tomra Brass Band
Frans Violet
4BR Ranking:

National Record:
2006: Winners of First Division (Frans Violet) (prom)
2005: 2nd (Frans Violet)
2004: =7th (Arnfinn Dalhaug)
2003: 2nd
2002: 3rd
2001: 4th
2000: 8th in Elite Division (rel)
1999: Winners of First Division

Overall Record:
Winners of First Division 1999, 2006
Last Year: Winners of First Division 

Own Choice Selection:
2006: Journey to the Centre of the Earth
2005: Whitsun Wakes

Frans Violet brought all his talent and knowledge to bear on Tomra last year as they took top honours in the First Section and gained promotion back to the Elite level. It was their fourth First Division title. 

The Belgian is back again and if he can cleverly manipulate his resources as well as he did last year (there was a crafty bit of part swapping that went unnoticed) then they could well make a mark. However this time they will have to perform two works in two days and that can be a very demanding task for the very best of bands. If anyone can do it though they can.  

2007 Own Choice Selections:

A.     Ascending - learning how to fly     (Stig Nordhagen)
B.     Aubade - Dawn Songs of the Fabulous Birds (T. Aagaard-Nilsen)
C.     Chain     (Piet Swerts)
D.     Dances and Alleluias     (Philip Sparke)
E.     Eden     (John Pickard)
F.     Ginnungagap- … seeing emptiness     (Johan Evenepoel)
G.     Harrison's Dream     (Peter Graham)
H.     Journey to the Centre of the Earth     (Peter Graham)
I.      Seid     (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen)
J.      Vienna Nights     (Philip Wilby)

2006 Results:

1. Stavanger Brass Band, Russell Gray, 98+95 = 96.5
2. Manger Musikklag, Robert Childs, 94+98 = 96
3. Eikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag, Nicholas J. Childs, 92+96 = 94
4. Oslofjord Brass, Michael Antrobus, 96+87 = 91.5
5. Molde Brass Band, Garry E. Cutt, 90+91 = 90.5
6. Sandefjord Brass Symposium, Ray Farr, 89+90 = 89.5
7. Ila Brass Band, Trond Korsgård, 88+90 = 89
8. Tertnes Brass, Bjørn Breistein, 93+84 = 88.5
9. Krohnengen Brass Band, Allan Withington, 85+92 = 88.5
10. Jaren Hornmusikkforening, Helge Haukås, 87+86 = 86.5

Solo prize: Bass trombone, Manger Musikklag
Best section: Percussion, Manger Musikklag

4BR Prediction:

As we said right at the beginning, this has all the ingredients to be a cracking contest – and possibly one to remember for a very long time. All the bands here have the ability to pull something out that could win at least one leg of the contest, although there is a clear gap if you are looking at the bands who can do the business over two legs.

With that in mind, and after hearing them on such fantastic form at Manchester we opt for Eikanger once more, closely followed by Manger and Stavanger. We can't see anyone else really breaking into the top three if they all play to form, and it may well come down to who really hits the jackpot with the own choice selection.  Sandefjord should have enough about them to come in the prizes once again, with Krohnengen and Molde not too far behind. Our dark Norwegian horse is Ila.
1. Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
2. Manger Musikklag
3. Stavanger
4. Sandefjord Symposium
5. Krohnengen
6. Molde

Dark Horse: Ila Brass Band


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