2009 Norwegian National Championships - Fourth Division retrospective


Plenty to enjoy, but plenty of questions to be asked too in a Fourth Division that was in fact two contests in one.

Now then. How do you adjudicate a contest that is in fact two contests in one?

And how do 21 of the 22 bands feel about having to compete in a contest that they know they have no chance of winning?

And how do the winners feel about playing in a contest that they shouldn’t be playing in at all?

And how are the organisers going to sort the mess out so that it doesn’t undermine the credibility of their fine work in helping community based banding to develop in Norway in the coming years?


To answer the first question:

Do what Jappie Dijkstra and Elisabeth Fossan did on Saturday. Make it clear that this was in fact two contests and not one. Write to the organisers and tell them so and make the recommendation that an additional band get promoted to the Third Division.

To answer question two:

Most probably with mixed emotions. There was obvious delight in hearing the winners, Bjorsvik Brass play ‘Journey into Freedom’ in the Fourth Division  - especially as the band was made up of some of the finest ex-Eikanger players of recent vintage.

However that must have been tempered by the fact that as hard as all the other bands had worked in preparation, they had no chance at all of winning. That defeated the whole object of the contest. We are sure there were quite a few bands that were more than a little upset.

Bit embarrassed

To answer the third question:

A little bit embarrassed about it all. Bjorsvik Brass had asked to play in the First Division and was fully expecting to pit their wits at the higher level. Unfortunately, the curse of petty bureaucracy raised its head and due to a rather silly adherence to the rules the band had to play in the Fourth Division instead.

It was a nonsense – they knew it, the organisers knew it, the audience knew it, the other bands knew, the judges knew it.

Common sense

And finally the last question:

Hopefully with a bit of good old Norwegian common sense. Perhaps a new Fifth Division can be created allow these ‘veteran’ bands to compete against themselves or just tweak the rules to allow the bands to suggest at what level they believe they should compete at.

We hope the organisers do take note of what Jappie Dijkstra both said in an interview with 4BR and in the correspondence he subsequently sent to the organisation. It would be a great pity if the same anomaly (to be kind) occurred again.


Bjorsvik asked to play in the First Division and they should have been allowed to. They should also be promoted there for 2010 too.

The decision to allow them to perform here made this a bit of a redundant contest. The 8-point winning margin could have been 28 – the difference was that great.

Great as it was to see the likes of Tormod Flaten and Martin Winter playing in the Peer Gynt Hall under the command of Russell Gray, it was bit of a musical mirage. It didn’t really seem real.

Real contest

At the ‘real’ contest came a whole host of performances that ranged from the good to the odd to the over ambitious to say the least. That was in fact a typical Norwegian Fourth Division contest – one we’ve enjoyed here over the past few years.

Therefore congratulations should go to Flora-Bremanger under Johnny Saelemyr who produced a good old showing on ‘Triptych’ by Philip Sparke to come second (or should that been unofficially, first). It was a performance worthy of a National title.

There were also good efforts too from Kristiansand Brass Band on ‘Princethorpe Variations’ and Lismarka/Mesnali on ‘Music for Thanksgiving’ – both of whom also deserved their final placings.


Speaking to Jappie though it was clear that he was quite critical about bands (and conductors especially) that had been over ambitious with their choices – he really did feel that far too many had bitten off more than they could chew.

4BR didn’t hear all the performances in this section, but those we did mange to catch a glimpse off tended to confirm rather than contradict Jappie Dijkstra’s findings.

Prescribed list

Perhaps the time has come for some sort of ‘prescribed list’ of test pieces that the bands can choose from here? Say, a list of ten pieces that should cover the ambitions and aspirations of the best as well as the realistic abilities of those not quite up to the mark.

If that can be done then even more bands would be able to compete, or that Fifth Section can be created to help the less experienced bands.

Norway does so much right here at this level it would be a great pity that the foundation for future banding prosperity could be undermined by unrealistic ambition or petty adherence to the rulebook.

Iwan Fox


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