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2021 SIDDIS Brass: First Division: Live

Friday 5 November, 2021

SIDDIS Brass 2021 - First Division

November 6, 2021


Martin Gernon reporting.

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Issue 6115 digital November 4, 2021


And that brings to an end a very enjoyable contest. 



Gjallarhorn have thrown the cat amongst the judicial pigeons, but not enough to prevent Sola Brass from claiming a commanding victory. Our top 4 is:


1 - Sola Brass

2 - Radoy brass

3 - Rong Brass

4 - Gjallerhorn


We have to wait until tonight for the results.


Elite Section to follow in 15 minutes.


Now for the last band of the section, Gjallerhorn, conducted by Kjetil Djonne

Preludium: Espen Westbye: anatmospheric start with singer and lonely, magnificent bass drum. The best trombone sound of the day so far. the band opens up and what a sound. Magnificent. 

Firedance: Bill Whelan, arr Espen Westbye: the band segues straight into Firedance - a little bass heavy, melody struggling to make itself heard above rhythm, but the playing is tight and very rhythmic. Some nice tuned perc playing that would benefit from harder mallets. All the Riverdance elements of Bills writing are coming through, accents perfectly placed. Drum kit overpowers a little. 

Makker: com Espen Westbye, soloist: Sigve Kolstad: soloist no music - thank you. Lovely cornet opening, slight clip, but it is forgotten. With all the whizz bang pyrotechnics available today, the slow melody is often forgotten - not here, this is lovely. Band need to be careful not to overpower though. A few unforced errors sadly creep in on the solo but lets put that down to 2 years off stage. The rest was just beautiful. 

Close To You: Carpenters, arr. Espen Westbye: a witty and innovativ opening. Majority of band is muted and the effect just make you smile and puts you in a happy place. Perc a little loud for this delicate arrangment. 

Misirou: trad, arr. Espen Westbye: the Cossacks arrive with some style, closely followed by the cast of Pulp Fiction! Terrific arrangement, band just need some detail on balance and it would be one of the pieces of the day. Its crying out for the soprano cornet to get on his feet, point it at the ceiling and bring the house down! Sadly not! Very good playing though. 

Postludium: Espen Westbye: Haunting marimba openng, so effective. Lovely euphonium melody line. Our very attractive singer returns with overiding harmonies and creates such a reflective mood. Really nice. The quiet playing of this band is the best of the day, so atmospheric. The singer encourages some audience participation which they willingly indulge in, and there the music ends. A slightly strange ending, but it also worked. 


Overall: Very good playing, dynamically out of balance at times, but a little weak on the story telling. The audience loved it though. What will the judges make of it. 





Sola Brass Band: conductor Gwyn Evans

The smartest looking band so far, resplendant in red and green sashes, and conductor sporting a wonderful kilt - in true Gaelic style?? A reprise of their Patagonia programme originally done for Beaumaris Band.

Fanfare: com: Gwyn Evans: the narrator sets the scene of a perilous Atlantic crossing and the band starts - wow, what a sound - the best opening of the day. Thrilling stuff and we can almost feel the waves lashing the exposed decks. 

Castell Caerphilly: TJ Powell: The band segues into the march, with such style. Whit Friday at its best. Lovely contributions from solo cornet and euphonium. Lovely dynamic range and contrast. So much swagger about the closing section that a certain Richard Evans would be envious. We have a violinist waiting at the side of the stage for a later part of the programme who cant keep still to this music!! Lovely!

Calon Lan: Daniel James arr Philip Harper: the narrator takes us to Argentina and a barren landscape that promised more hardship. The call is taken up by the trombone section, which after a slightly shaky start gel very nicely indeed, invoking the Welsh spirit through song. Nice choreography and use of the stage. Couple of clips on cornet line though. Beautiful last chord. 

Celtic Dance: Gwyn Evans: the lady fiddler takes centre stage with accompanying bhorrdran and we are transported to a good place. Feet tapping and head nodding all round the hall! The playing is so good, rhythm to spare and it is infectious. The contest has taken on a new dimension. 

Finale Patagonia: com: Gwyn Evans: The narrator tells of the continuing Welsh Heritage in Patagonia and Nigel Fielding on sop delivers a beautiful opening. Lovely trio playing with horn and trombone. Th hymn tune playing is of the highest quality and the audience is transfixed. The mood changes with latin influence superbly led by perc. Violin and trombone take us through the Gancho's in such style, such descriptive playing and arranging. The rhythmic clapping just sets up an incredible finale. 

The crowd go nuts. Enough said.

Overall: The winner for us so far by some distance. Entertainment, story telling and quite outstanding playing combine to make this set just brilliant. Bravo to band conductor and fiddler (Merethe Camilla By)


Next up....Hasle Brass conducted by Robert Solberg Nilsen

March of The Belgian Paratroopers - Pierre leemans - the conductors arrangement gets the band off to a very tidy start. Lovely soprano and cornet. Percussion a touch loud and overpower. The bands quiet playing is very good, however as dynamics increase, balance is lost. Nice opener though.

Peace, Please! - com. frode Thingnaes, arr John philip Hannevik, arr Robert Solberg Nilsen, soloist: Knut Esten Thomassen Standal: the young euphonium player puts a smile on my face by playing solo without music or stand. Thank you! Lovely controlled playing by him, but the band could be a little quieter in accompaniment. The latin section again is a little heavy and noticeable clips on sop. The solo playing is marvelous, if we could hear it - band way too loud through this section. Some lovely solo playing to finish. A contender for the best soloist prize today.

Nocturne: Torstein Aagaard Nilsen: as with the last band opening is too loud. Ensemble is together though, and in tune. Tuning drifts, however, through the exposed solo lines. One of the hardest things to do in this piece is move together and hit bar lines together. It really is a very tough piece. The scoring is deceptively simple, but that is where the worst traps lie. 

Gudda: Roger Tallroth, arr John Philip Hannevik: opening entries from flugel and horn are masked by accompaniments. A few miscues through horns doesnt help.  Lovely sop throughout though. Some good ensemble through the middle. Nice duet cornet and Eb bass. Lovely piece - look out for it!

Allelulia Laudamus: Alfred reed - arr conductor: the opening is just splendid and the choral is lovely. Low timp is flat and this grates on the tuning when rolling. This piece is crying out for some choeography, maybe cornet and trombones semi circle around the band. Its a rousing finish though.

Overall: Dynamics affected this performance, or the range of them more to the point. lovely euphonium playing and a definite contender. 


Back with Folleso Musikklag conducted by Christian Breistein

 The band open with Frederick Schelderup's Festivitas - a terrific opener from one of Norways brightest conducting talents.

Confident and cohesive start from the band with a very young average age. They create a lovely sound, show a full dynamic range and commitment to the music. Terrific start.

Bruremarsj fra Sorfold - trad arr John Phillip Hannevik - soloist - Nora Kolstad Morken. The young Principal Cornet gets to her feet and what a lovely sound she has. Good dynamic control from the band who dont overpower her. You can forgive the odd clip as this is such a lovely piece of music. Nice duet with the flugel. This young lady is definitely one to watch for the future. 

I Byen Samarkand - Odd Nordstoga, arr Svein H Giske - driving percussion set the scene and the band respond magnificently - the conductor just taps his foot, not needing to beat, they are so together. Solo lines and contributions could have some more force and impact. This is a joyous piece for this young band to play and you can see it on their faces how much they are enjoying being back on stage again. A surprisingly abrupt end but a great piece nonetheless.

Nocturne - Torstein Aagaard Nilsen - a little loud for what is a quiet opening. The score structuring requires total balance and a lower dynamic - a tough ask, but would portray the music better. This would be a tough piece for an Elite band.

The band segue into Dark Abyss, another Frederick Schelderup composition, made famous by Eikanger in their all conquering year when they won everything!

Its a good start, full of energy and shadow. A lot of inner detail which makes this piece so special doesn't rise to the surface though - the effects of fish darting past, of sea creatures being persued by predators etc is not fully realised through percussion. The slow descent to the depths however is played with so much control, just the occasional solo lapse detracts. The close is so well balanced but more can be made of effects. A good attempt at a very difficult piece.


Overall: Some really good moments but maybe a programme that stretched this fine young ensemble a little too much.


We have now reached the halfway point and a break in proceedings. 

Our Halfway Prediction:

Some terrific playing, great programme selection and execution, mixed with some very understandable nerves and cobwebs! Well done to all the bands.

We are going for a top 3 at this stage of:

1 - Radoy Brass

2 - Rong Brass

3 - Askoy Brass

Lots still to play for - back in 15 minutes!


Flesland Muikklag up next.....

Margie Antrobus conducting. A famous name in Norwegian music circles.

American Salute: A fatherly arrangement of Morton Goulds original. Nice touch. Confident opening. Bass melody not together. Band recovers well and good contributions from around the stand. Few clips in running cornet lines come through. There is no hiding place in this acoustic and the jury will hear everything. There are places where isolated passages are not always comfortable, but a rousing finish should settle the band.

Shenandoah - the conductors own arrangement gives us a beautiful Eb bass solo, what a gorgeous sound. Bravo. Such lovely textures from the bottom end of the band, clever arrangement. Some of the nicest playing of the day.

Hoe Down - The Howard Snell arrangement of Aaron Copeland's classic. Tempo is very fast to open. I think there may be a few injured cowboys at this speed. Because of the tempo not everything sits in its correct place and sounds a little rushed. Xylo a little behind. Front row cornets resplendent in cowboy hats manage really well. However, the pace is telling and other sections arent as fluent. In a piece where placement, rhythm and tempo are so integral, this one just gets away from the band. 

Its Alright With Me - Tom Breviks trombone feature of the Cole Porter hit. It features a four strong trombone section, a brave choice with Brett Baker judging! Good playing though. Stefan Cooper on Principal Cornet delivers a nice cameo, but was his entry late? Again from a presentation point of view, would have been nice to see soloists without the need for music stands. The playing works though and gets a nice ovation.

Georgia On My Mind - Alan Morrison's arrangement of the Hoagy Carmichael hit, features the front row with a great trumpet start from bumper up and supported in great style by the rest of his teammates. terrific number. A pity the last top note didnt quite make it out. 

Boogie Down - Al Jarreau at his best in a great arrangment by the conductor - this lady has real talent - and she can dance better than Phil Harper! You cant help but tap your feet, clap your hands and feel good, man! Its a crowd pleasing finish and really well delivered.

Overall: An American inspired programme that contained some real magical moments, but overall the stars and stripes didnt fully align. Lots to admire though!



Askoy Brass take to the stage conducted by Svein Henrik Giske

Generalstabens Honnormarsj - Oscar Borg, arr Svein Henrik Giske. What a great fanfare opening. All lines clean and a soprano cornet who sails over the band. All solo line contributions are delivered with aplomb. So much ceremonial pomp about the playing and delivered in such an exacting way. Fabulous opener.

Ombra mai fu - the conductors arrangement of this beautiful piece by Handel and features soprano cornet Tonje Marielle Iversen. Some lovely perc work opening into a confident opening by the soloist. The bowed vibraphone however is out of tune and out of place and detracts from the beauty of this piece. The soloist's upper register is so clean and a wonderfully high closing passage brings a well deserved ovation from the audience.

Root Beer Rag - Billy Joels classic takes a little time to sit into tempo and not always together. Perc not together and this is causing the disruption. Ensemble playing is good however. A few bits of tiredness in the difficult runs comes through, but it all comes good in the end with a rapturous close.

Not To Be Forgotten - Pat Metheny - the conductor has arranged the entire programme and the inclusion of a Pat Metheny number allows chord structures and scoring of such rich complexity to come through and it is exquisite. The bowed vibraphone however is again harsh - not sure if it is the vibraphone, the bow, the rosin, but the conductor should ask for it to be left out.  The rest is just beautiful.

Ragtimes and Habaneras VII - HW Henze - no re-arrangement necessary of this original number. Clever writing combining the two opposing styles works together so well. Short, but delightful.

Tunal Tunak Tun - percussion hits the audience as a full scale fiesta erupts on stage. A full frontal line up of players give us some glorious vocal work and great solo lines. Playing with great style and energy, its not over the top and controlled. What a great closing number, that could equally be a fabulous concert opener. Tunak Tunak indeed!!! Well played on a terrific close.

Overall: A really great set and programme choice. A warning to other bands not to bow the vibes, they sound so harsh! Some great playing but a performance that left the door open. 



Next Up....Radoy Brass.... Torstein Aagaard Nilsen

"Se alltid lyst pa livet" -  a lovely sextet Dixieland opening makes way for the band to open up and swing in true New Orleans fashion. Great solo line contributions from our sextet! Terrific opener.

Telemarksfanfare - The composers arrangement of this traditional number starts off with some great field drum playing then backed up with a tight, crisp ensemble. great dynamic range on the band, and appreciated by the audience.

Himmell Imella Oss - Hanns Petter Aaserud, soloist Marita Strandorg - flugel - what a beautiful sound this young lady has. Accompaniment together, but a little loud. One of the things you love about Siddis is the variety of programme choice and this is just lovely.

Fanitullen - Ole Olsen - Tom Brevik's arrangement of this flying carpet! Good ensemble work, if a little bottom heavy. Perc a little nervous in this. A fun novelty piece, played well.

Alt legger for din fot jeg ned - Halvdan Kjerulf - another Tom Brevik arrangement, which sees the full array of the arrangers huge talent. Some really lovely controlled playing by all sections of the band. Principal Cornet excels. Bravo - the best playing of the day so far.

Rendezvous - the conductors arrangement of this Greig original. Given Torsteins full and brilliant flair, this is terrific playing, so full of life, so much energy, and superb contributions from sop on some difficult entries. Torstein's skill in bringing out colours and textures are right to the fore, the man is a genius arranger and composer. This is a terrific closing number and has me and the rest of the audience spellbound. Some tiny clips appear in the corent line through understandable tiredness. A driving cowbell brings us to the closing sections, with smiles from all players, they are loving this! Brilliant close. 

 Overall: A really good, controlled and tight performance from Radoy, no nonsense terrific playing. The leader for me so far! The crowd give the biggest ovation of the day too! Special mentions to Principal Cornet and Soprano who were flawless throughout, well done!!



2 - Tertnes Brass - conductor Borge Styve

The Moon Theme - Hiroshige Tonomura, arr 8bit Big Band  - Wow, great percussion to start with, then tight, balanced ensemble, crisp, together, full of energy, but not overblown at all. Solo trumpetesque feature doesnt go according to plan, however, such a shame. Trombone clips unnerve the band but they get back together. The ensemble playing is terrific, clips from soloists just detracted.

Aeriths Theme - Nobuo Uematsu, arr Ola Berg Riser - nicely balanced opening with lovely marimba. This is a classy piece of music and on the whole the band play it well. It could be a little softer and rounder in attack for my personal liking. the dynamic range and contrasts of the band are really well controlled and tuning is very good. the slightest of clips on cornet takes the gloss of a beautiful constructed final phrase.

Tetris Theme - back the 8bit Big Band with this Hirokazu Tanaka composition. This band can really play swing and up tempo, great percussion work on mallets. tempo drops a little from the opening but the playing is pretty good with so much energy. Perc team really gels in this piece and forms a great backbone. Super Greek inspired finish, that could have smashed a thousand plates! Well done!

Zelda's Lullaby - Koji Kondo , arr Borge Styve - the conductors own arrangement as a dust with horn and flugel. Flugel has a shaky start but recovers so well. A lovely piece, but sometimes a little loud for a lullaby. less is more. Tuned percussion again excel, lovely playing. Its a great piece and lovely arrangement. For impact, I'd like to have seen the soloists play without music stands, which would connect much closer to the audience.

The Legend of Zelda Suite - Koji Kondo, arr Rohan Sandemo - great ensemble start - full of drama and passion. I could listen to this percussion team all day, they are a fantastic group of players - bravo. Some more singing which is very welcome! Slow sections, we hear more clips from end chairs, which has unfortunately become a trend in this performance. thundering close.

Overall: A terrific ensemble performance, but a day when the principals may reflect on too many clips. Best percussion so far and a very enjoyable programme to listen to.


 First up today we have Rong Brass conducted by David Morton, no stranger to UK and Norwegian viewers, the former principal cornet of the Eikanger Bjorsvik Band. A good audience for band number 1.

The Man With The Harmonica - Rong open their programme with the Ennio Morricone classic from Once Upon A Time In The West with offstage muted cornet. A confident opening. Slight tuning issues on euphs and horns, but its minor and the ensemble gels nicely. The acoustics in this hall are just perfect, you can hear everything, and the band responds through the dynamics with great clarity. This is a difficult opener to have tight ensemble playing and bravo to conductor and band for pulling it off.

The band segue nicely into Astor Piazzola's La Muerte Del Angel arranged by Svein Henry Giske, featuring soloist Helene Reigstad on euphonium. Its up tempo, its tight and a great contrast to their opening. this young lady on euphonium is brimming with confidence and plays wonderfully. Piazzolz's music is only brought to life with sharp accents, and well done to the band for pulling this off.

Gavin Higgins Ivory Ghosts starts a little cruffily but soon settles down into some wonderful ensemble playing. the suet between cornet and flugel is not quite balanced in dynamic and tone. Lovely marimba playing gives a new texture and colour to the piece. The conductor uses the full stage, circling the cornets around the back of the band. Some lovely effects are created, but the odd clip detracts a little. 

A beautifully sung segue into Love...with a Capitol M by Frode Rydland, featuring Kine Oen and Helene Reigstad on euph and flugel respectively. Some more lovely singing and tonal work, though drum kit overpowers and is too heavy for the music. Kine Oen has been the bands star player today and hasnt put a foot wrong. A bright finish, but again kit dominates too much from its forward position next to the conductor. really nice piece from frode. Slight tuning issue at the end on flugel but overall really nicely played.

Daniel Hall's Youngblood finishes the bands set and the forward kit position now comes into its own, some good work by the drummer. conet runs on the whole are tight but a little tiredness creeps in. |trombones - bravo - great sound. The individual section playing is tight, but requires a little more balance. Majestic close however and a great reception from the crowd. So wonderful to be hearing live music again here at Siddis.

Overall: A well thought out and choreographed programme, some lovely playing but also a few clips and balance issues. A good marker for the remaining bands to follow. 

Good morning from a wet and dark Stavanger, but thats only the weather! In our hotel, many of the competing bands are resident and the anticipation at playing live again at Siddis Brass is visible on everyone's faces here. The atmosphere was already building last night, as the excellent organising team arranged rehearsals for bands in each of the four competition halls so they can all get a taste of the venues ahead of performance. It also allowed the hardworking BrassPass TV crew to get all the halls set up in record time last night, with a few hours of luxurious sleep before a busy day running four concurrent streams to a worldwide audience.

The event is pre-drawn in all sections and adjudication is open. 

We start this morning in the fabulous Fartein Valen Hall with the First Section.

Draw and adjudicators coming up....  

1 - Rong Brass

2 - Tertnes Brass

3 - Radoy Brass

4 - Askoy Brass

5 - Flesland Musikklag


6 - Folleso Musikklag

7 - Hasle Brass

8 - Sola Brass Band

9 - Gjallerhorn