2008 Norwegian National Championships - Preview: Introduction


4BR will be in Bergen this weekend to bring you a flavour of one of the most exciting brass band contests in the world - the Norwegian Nationals.

Geig Hall2008 is a very important year for Norwegian banding. With the European Brass Band Championship taking place in Stavanger in May and with the 30th running of their National Championship once more in Bergen, the eyes and ears of the worldwide brass band movement will be fixed well and truly on the fjords. 

The Norwegian brass band movement has certainly come of age, its youthful naivety and enthusiasm perhaps replaced with a slightly more world weary attitude to the contesting format, but still with an unquenchable thirst for self improvement and innovation.

Nearly 70 bands

Once more the fabulous Grieghallen will echo to the sound of brass bands – nearly 70 this year with an increase in numbers yet again in the all important Fourth Division which on this occasion sees 19 ensembles make the trip form various parts of the country to take part. 

And it is in the lower sections here that we see the greatest difference between the banding movements of the UK and Norway.  Where there was something of a sterile atmosphere at Harrogate last year at the Lower Section National Finals, here it’s all about vibrant innovative thinking.  

Open adjudication, witty introductions from the comperes, relaxed rules, own choice selections and most importantly, an atmosphere that is warm, friendly and very supportive of both the bands and the efforts of the organisers. It’s not an alien concept, or one that is beyond the realms of fantasy – its common sense given the chance – all with the added bonus of being very well run.  The result is for all to see and hear.

Elite Division

The Elite Division shares many of the same attributes of the lower sections (there are even rumours that the judging process may become open in the next couple of years too) and the two days of competition for the superb National Trophy and the invitation to be the country’s representative at the 2009 European Championships is fiercely intense. 

If there is a bit of a cloud on the Norwegian horizon though is that there is still a seeming reluctance of the many of the top bands to place their trust in home grown conducting talent. This year the UK import factor is five – Messers Childs, Childs, Farr, Cutt and Boddice, whilst Norwegianfile Allan Withington will be at the helm with reigning champion Stavanger once more.

There is undoubted young conducting talent (Selmer Simonsen, Bjorn Breistein, Espen Westbye, Tormod Flaten to name but a few) but it is strange that elite bands that can now produce an almost endless supply of immensely talented players don’t seem to want to trust their own brethren to lead them in the heat of competition. The last home winner was 18 years ago. 

There is less insistence in bringing in the big guns in the lower sections, but some bands in the UK will be looking for deps for rehearsals as the likes of Russell Gray and the talented Simon Dobson make the trip over this year.


One of the real joys of the weekend though is to sit back and revel in the sense of ambition that is on display. The rules of the Elite Division mean that there will be 10 individual own choice selections to be heard, whilst in the other divisions the choice is a veritable smorgasbord of delights.  The classics are well catered for, although in the Elite Division it is more about big blockbusters than beautiful Eric Ball. 

The sense of musical ambition can at times lead to some bands over stretching themselves, but who can complain when they dish up such diverse delights as ‘Call of the Cossacks’ against ‘The Kingdom Triumphant’ in the Fourth Division,  ‘Resurgam’ versus ‘Firestorm’ in the Third, and ‘Pageantry’ against ‘Music of the Spheres’ in the First?

There is also a welcome belief in new compositions too. We are sure to enjoy ‘Prillar –Guri – The Voice of the Valley’ by Gustav Oistensen Aaberg and ‘Songar fra Fysjenes’ by Idar Torskangerpoll, the bloke who brought us the wonderfully bonkers, ‘A Breathless Gnu Kiss’ last year.   

For the sixth successive year 4BR will be packing the thermal underwear to enjoy the whole event. We will bring you the Elite Division ‘live’ and will be trying our best to bring you a sense of the colour and excitement of the whole weekend, whilst keeping on eear to what is going on in the rugby in Cardiff.


2016   2015   2014   2013   2012
2011   2010   2009   2008   2007
2006   2005   2004 (1)   2004 (2)   2003
2002   2001