Eikanger Bjorsvik reclaimed Norway's premier entertainment title after winning the Elite Division of the Siddis Championship in Stavanger.
Their first win since 2011 came courtesy of an eclectic programme set entitled 'A Salute to Life' under the direction of Reid Gilje.
It was the 16th time the band had returned home to Bergen with the Championship trophy in their possession, boosted on this occasion by a prize of 18,000 krone and an invitation to compete at the 2017 Brass in Concert Championship.
Reid all about it
It also proved a successful weekend for their MD as Reid Gilje managed to squeeze in an early afternoon detour to the smaller Zetlitz auditorium to lead his old friends at Nordlys XO to their first Siddis title in the Third Section.
Defending champion Stavanger was seeking a fifth consecutive victory under MD Allan Withington, but failed to sparkle in eventually ending third, beaten by the self-proclaimed 'geriatric veterans' of Bjorsvik Brass led by Andreas Hanson, who rolled back the years to come runner-up.
That result also marked a significant milestone for the band made up of many former Eikanger players, as it was the first time they had beaten one of the heavyweight 'anger' bands at a major contest.
The remaining top-six places went to Olso, Kleppe Musikklag and Krohnengen.
In a contest that perhaps failed to live up to the expectations of musical inventiveness and highly polished execution, Eikanger stood out for judges Stig Nordhagen and Hannes Buchegger with the overall standard of their playing on what they agreed was an eclectic programme theme.
"They had so much quality," Stig told 4BR. "The level of performance was so good on very different pieces. They were a clear winner for us."
Meanwhile, Hannes added: "We were able to hear the clarity and balance of the ensemble playing. The soloists were excellent. It was a programme that had very different contrasts and styles."
It was certainly that, as Eikanger opened with the exotic colours of 'Mahalageasca' by Mahala Rai Banda.
'Practical Arrangement' by pop star Sting was a showcase for the sumptuous talents of Vidar Nordli on trombone and Gyda Matland on flugel, before the fun and games of Gordon Goodwin's 'Attack of the Killer Tomatoes' led into the 'Nativity' and final section from Philip Wilby's '...Dove Descending'.
"We are delighted to have won the title again," Eikanger spokesperson Viggo Borge told 4BR. "Reid produces wonderful programmes that always challenge us as a band — and that was the case again this year.
Siddis is a very important contest for us, so to regain the title after a four year absence and to gain an invitation to compete at Brass in Concert is very satisfying. We certainly enjoyed the celebrations last night."
The early contest marker had been provided by Krohnengen with a neatly arranged homage to the Swedish pop group ABBA that eventually came sixth, whilst Kleppe Musikklag upped the ante with their 'Trans-Siberian Railway' musical blog that combined witty choreography with easily recognisable repertoire to end fifth and take the 'Best Entertainment' award.
The battle for the title however came with the heavyweight sets provided by Bjorsvik, Eikanger, Stavanger and Oslo who followed each other onto the Stavanger Konserthus stage.
The pre-contest anticipation surrounding Bjorsvik Brass was not misplaced after they recovered from some error strewn opening items to eventually find top form — rounding off their set with a superb 'La Muerte de Angel' by Piazolla and a foundation rumbling 'Pines of Rome'.
With Eikanger raising the bar further, all eyes and ears were focussed on defending champion Stavanger, as they set out to entertain with a concept programme based on the life of the French icon Jean of Arc.
Despite the obvious sense of creative theatre that linked personal emotion and interpretative free thinking ideas, on this occasion the band's usually solid execution was pockmarked by individual and ensemble errors as they eventually ended third.
That left Oslo to play out an impressive 'Hunting with a Helicon' set under John Philip Hannevik to a disappointingly small audience.
Those who decided to opt for the bar missed a bit of treat as the band deservedly claimed fourth place. In addition their excellent principal player Borge Styve took the 'Best Soloist' award for his rendition of the famous 'Cavatina' theme from the film 'The Deer Hunter'.
Elsewhere it was a question of hit and miss ideas and execution as Jaren's high impact set tested the hall's acoustic to end seventh, ahead of a brace of disappointingly uneven performances from Ila Brass and Oslofjord.
Earlier in the day the main Konserthus auditorium hosted nine well matched First Section bands who certainly produced a veritable smorgasbord of enjoyable entertainment fayre.
None were more tasty for judges Arvid Anthun and Russell Gray than defending champion Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn led by Rune Gundersen, with a set that opened with a choreographed 'Overture' from the film 'TRON — Legacy', before neatly segueing into the final section of Andy Scott's 'Salt of the Earth'.
The tender euphonium solo 'Death Theme' from the film 'The Untouchables' led into 'Hunting Wabbits' before another arrangement gem from the pen of Espen Westbye, 'Voi, Voi' provided the contrast to the colourful 'The Heat of the Day' to close.
It was the band's second successive win as they retained the title and bagged the 10,000 krone first prize in some style.
"It was a very good standard overall," Russell Gray told 4BR before jetting off to Greece to take part in a conducting competition.
"There was something to enjoy in every performance, but the winners had that extra polish and class on a very well thought out programme."
That was something the winning MD Rune Gundersen was pleased to hear. "We have had a number of changes in the last year and have worked so hard for this contest. Espen always comes up with something fantastic of course, but all the players deserve the credit for this success."
Earlier it was Askoy Brass led by Svein Henrik Giske who set the marker off the number 1 draw with a quality set that opened with the rarely heard Alford march, 'The Vanished Army'. They eventually ended third behind another classy performance from Tertnes Brass conducted by Martin Winter.
They in turn gave a welcome reprise of his inventive 'Madrigal Mystery Tour, aided by a 'Best Soloist' award winning rendition of 'Fatal la Perte' on trumpet by Vegard Feste.
In a contest that showed a great deal of purposeful invention from each competitor, the final top-six places went to Hasle Brass, Radoy Brass and Sola Brass.
Whilst the First and Elite Divisions battled it out in the main Konserthus auditorium, a mammoth field of 18 contenders locked horns in the splendid Kuppelhallen just up the road.
Adjudicators Clare Farr and Torgny Hanson had plenty of varied repertoire to compare and contrast, with Clare later telling 4BR that the standard had been high with the top four bands closely matched.
Defending triumph for Haukas
In the end it was a triumph for defending champion Haukas Musikklag led by former Black Dyke tuba star Joseph Cook, ahead of Rong Brass, Sorum Musikklag and Bergen Brass.
The remaining top-six places went to Flesland Musikklag and Brottum Brass, whilst there was Welsh success to celebrate as former Beaumaris principal cornet Nick Hughes, now living in Norway, took the 'Best Soloist' award for his rendition of 'Blamann, Blamann'.
Haukas opened with the William Himes march, 'Milestone' followed by 'The Holy Well' featuring baritone soloist Solveig Eknes. Contrast came with 'Blueberry Hill' and 'Reflections in Nature' before closing with 'Three Kings Swing.'
The contest weekend was certainly a celebration of musical maturity, as not only did the former stars of Eikanger enjoy success with Bjorsvik Brass, but there was also a wonderful victory to savour for Nordlys XO in the Third Division.
The XO in their case stands for 'Extra Old' as the band made up of players aged 55 plus beat off younger challengers to claim a second successive title success at the event after winning the Fourth Division last year.
Directed by Reid Gilje, their set of 'Robbie and Michael' (based on music of Robbie Williams and Michael Jackson), 'Breakfast in America' and 'Mama Mia' saw them repel the solid podium claims of rivals Stavanger Kommunes Korps and Rosendal Musikklag, whose Eb bass team took the 'Best Soloist' award.
The final top-six places went to Valdres Brass Band, Eidsberg Brass Band and Salhus Musikklag, with Nordlys XO's sprightly band rep telling 4BR after he picked up the trophy on stage that despite their communal age, he still thought he and his fellow players were going to enjoy a very late night celebration.
There was also mature success to enjoy in the Fourth Division as Krohnengen Old Stars Brass claimed their first Siddis title under experienced conductor Oyvind Raknes Nikolaisen by a clear-cut six point margin.
Their programme of 'Olympic Fanfare and Theme', 'A Time for Peace' featuring horn player Ingvild Hernar, 'Valero', 'Heyr, Himna Smidur' and 'The Cossack' march saw them repel the challenge of podium finishers Hetlevik Musikklag and Riska Brass Band, whose tuba player Arild Aarrestad won the 'Best Soloist' award for his fine rendition of 'Ave Maria'.
The final top-six places went to Lyshornet Brass, Skeie Brass and Musikkorpset Heimdal.
Despite Stavanger hoping to host another European Championship in the future at the outstanding contest venue, the organisers will be wary that this year's Siddis contest was slightly down in competitive numbers, whilst audience support in the top section varied greatly.
However, many people who 4BR spoke to felt the contest was perhaps in need of a creative burst of innovative energy from a new generation of talented composers and performers, rather than a prescriptive change in the marking system or rules if it was to further enhance its position as providing the banding world's most imaginative entertainment format.
The emotional response to the appearance of Montebello Brass providing a short concert programme under Margie Antrobus in memory of her father who recently passed away, ensured that those issues were left to be addressed for another day.
Siddis is a very important contest for us, so to regain the title after a four year absence and to gain an invitation to compete at Brass in Concert is very satisfying. We certainly enjoyed the celebrations last nightViggo Borge, Eikanger Bjorsvik
Adjudicators: Hannes Buchegger & Stig Nordhagen
Music points* + entertainment = Total
1. Eikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag (Reid Gilje): 97 + 9 = 106
2. Bjørsvik Brass (Andreas Hanson): 96 + 7 = 103
3. Stavanger Brass (Allan Withington): 94 + 9 = 103
4. Oslo Brass (Philip Hannevik): 93 + 9 = 102
5. Kleppe Musikklag (Vidar Nordli): 92 + 10 = 102
6. Krohnengen Brass (Bjørn Breistein): 91 + 9 = 99**
7. Jaren Hornmusikkforening (Christian Tenfjord): 88 + 8 = 96
8. Ila Brass (Philip Hannevik): 89 + 7 = 95**
9. Oslofjord Brass (Trond Husebø): 87 + 8 = 95
* In event of tie music points take precedent
** 1 point time penalty
Best Soloist: Borge Styve (cornet) — Oslo Brass Band
Adjudicators: Arvid Anthun & Russell Gray
1. Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn (Rune Gundersen): 97 + 10 = 107
2. Tertnes Brass (Martin Winter): 95 + 9 = 104
3. Askøy Brass (Svein Henrik Giske): 93 + 8 = 101
4. Hasle Brass (Robert Solberg Nilsen): 91 + 7 = 98
5. Radøy Brass (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen): 90 + 7 = 97
6. Sola Brass (Selmer Simonsen): 88 + 5 = 93
7. Alexander Brass (Morten Evjeberg Hansen): 87 + 6 = 93
8. Oster Brass (David Morton): 86 + 6 = 92
Best Soloist: Vegard Feste (trumpet) — Tertnes Brass
Musikkorpset Gjallarhorn won the trophy for the highest overall score in all sections of the event.
Montebello Brass (Margaret Antrobus) did not perform in the contest.
Stavanger Konserthus (Kuppelhallen)
Adjudicators: Torgny Hanson & Clare Farr
1. HaukÃ¥s Musikklag (Joe Cook): 94 + 9 = 103
2. Rong Brass (David Morton): 93 + 9 = 102
3. Sørum Musikklag (Sverre Olsrud): 92 + 8 = 100
4. Bergen Brass (Simon Wood): 91 + 9 = 100
5. Flesland Musikklag (Thor Arne Pedersen): 91 + 8 = 99
6. Brøttum Brass (Erling Myrseth): 91 + 7 = 98
7. Manger Old Star Brass (Marit Tømmermo): 89 + 7 = 96
8. Agder Brass (Thomas Swatland): 88 + 7 = 95
9. SagvÃ¥g Musikklag (Yngve Nikolaisen): 86 + 9 = 95
10. Tysnes Musikklag (Paul Hughes): 87 + 7 = 94
11. LindÃ¥s Brass (Hilde Brevik Grytten): 87 + 6 = 93
12. Follesø Musikklag (Bjørn Breistein): 86 + 7 = 93
13. Stangaland Brass (Kristian Thulin): 85.5 + 6 = 91.5
14. Gjesdal Brass (Jonas Skartveit Rogne): 85 + 6 = 91
15. Fjell Brass (Egil Magnussen): 84 + 6 = 90
16. LaksevÃ¥g Musikkforening (Helge HaukÃ¥s): 80 + 8 = 88
17. TysvÃ¦r Brass (Nick Walkley): 79 + 8 = 87
18. IMI Brass (Per-Erik Petersen): 81 + 5 = 86
Best Soloist: Nick Hughes (cornet) — Sagvag Musikklag
Stavanger Konserthus Zetlitz
Adjudicators: Robert Richardson & Odin Hagen
1. Nordlys XO (Reid Gilje): 95 + 7 = 102
2. Stavanger Kommunes Korps (Morten Ã˜vrebekk): 93 + 8 = 101
3. Rosendal Musikklag (Yngve Nikolaisen): 91 + 8 = 99
4. Valdres Brass (Thorgeir Thunestvedt): 90 + 7 = 97
5. Eidsberg Brassband (Hans Petter Ringstad): 89 + 6 = 95
6. Salhus Musikklag (Vidar Nordli): 87 + 7 = 94
7. Randaberg Musikkorps (PÃ¥l Magne Austnes-Underhaug): 85 + 8 = 93
8. Indre Torungen Brass Ensemble (Andres Halla): 86 + 6 = 92
9. Seim Musikklag (Asbjørn Hauge): 84 + 7 = 90
10. Langhus Brass (Tomas Carstensen): 83 + 7 = 90
Best Soloist: Tuba — Rosendal Musikklag
Stavanger Konserthus Zetlitz
Adjudicators: Stian Svendsen & Cecilie Løken
1. Krohnengen Old Star Brass (Ã˜yvind Nikolaisen): 96 + 9 = 105
2. Hetlevik Musikklag (Andreas Lien Røe): 91 + 8 = 99
3. Riska Brass Band (Espen Westbye): 89 + 8 = 97
4. Lyshornet Brass (Ã˜yvind Raknes Nikolaisen): 88 + 8 = 96
5. Skeie Brass (Nigel Fielding): 86 + 7 = 93
6. Musikkorpset Heimdal (Linda Mattson): 86 + 6 = 92
7. Karmsund Brass (Steinar Andsnes): 85 + 7 = 92
8. Spydeberg Brass (Idar Torskangerpoll): 84 + 6 = 90
9. Sotra Brass (Ben Hirons): 82 + 8 = 90
10. Eikelandsfjorden Musikklag (Aidan Smith): 83 + 5 = 88
11. Norheimsund Musikklag (Patrik Randefalk): 81 + 6 = 87
12. Hinna Brass (Else Irene Kjellevold): 80 + 6 = 86
Best Soloist: Arild Aarrestad (Eb tuba) — Riska Brass Band