Banding together

Lagertha Aslaug
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Photo courtesy of Kristin Hesla-Halvorsen Alexandra is one of the youngest girls in action marching with Kollbotn-Garden, the all-girls marching band.

Photo courtesy of Kristin Hesla-Halvorsen
Alexandra is one of the youngest girls in action marching with Kollbotn-Garden, the all-girls marching band.

On June 22, 2014 the only all girls Norwegain marching band, Kollbotn-Garden will be performing in Cannonball Park, aka John Paul Jones Park at 101st Street & 4th Avenue in Bay Ridge Brooklyn.

Victoria Hofmo, President of The Scandinavian East Coast Museum was contacted by one of its leaders, Kristin Hesla-Halvorsen, a mother of two girls in the band, to see if the SECM could organize a place for Kolbotn-Garden to perform in New York.

Hofmo’s response to the request? “I immediately and emphatically said, Yes! The SECM has a commitment to finding and educating the public about cultural connections between Norway and other cultures and countries. For instance, at our annual Viking Fest held in Bliss/Owl’s Head Park we feature dance and musical performance from any culture that has a connection to the Vikings. In this vein, I thought, since this Norwegian band will be performing a military tattoo and concert, why not hold it close to the historic Fort Hamilton Army Base, the only active army base in New York? This way we can connect the military traditions from both countries.”

Photo: Kristin Hesla-Halvorsen Kolbotn-Garden performing with His Majesty’s King’s Guard in June 2013.

Photo: Kristin Hesla-Halvorsen
Kolbotn-Garden performing with His Majesty’s King’s Guard in June 2013.

I had not heard of the area Kolbotn before so I asked Halvorsen to tell us a little about the area. “Kolbotn is 13 kilometers south of Oslo. The most famous place in our neighborhood is Roald Amundsen’s home, ‘Uranienborg.’ It stands today as it did in 1928 when the polar explorer left it.”

Halvorsen also provided some highlights of the band’s history. “The band was established in 1959 by Bjørg Aukner. She was so upset by the fact there was no opportunity for girls to play in a band that she started her own drum band for girls! Soon 16 girls were playing drums and cymbals and they had their first performance May 17th 1960. Two years later the band also had signal trumpets and marching-trombones. Bjørg was very ambitious and had His Majesty’s King’s Guard as a role model for how she wanted to develop the band. In 1965 the band performed their first tattoo and found its identity, which has been kept since then. The band has been invited for the past 13 years to perform together with His Majesty’s King’s Guard on their Open Day at their campus, Huseby. It has also been Norwegian champions and participated in the World Championship for show bands. Every year they travel abroad and have performed their tattoo at many famous squares and parks throughout Europe.”

Photo: Kristin Hesla-Halvorsen Kolbotn-Garden in Gdansk, Poland, in the summer of 2013.

Photo: Kristin Hesla-Halvorsen
Kolbotn-Garden in Gdansk, Poland, in the summer of 2013.

What is unique about this band? “Kolbotn-Garden is the only marching show band in Norway for girls. It now counts 42 girls, only 6 started last year.”

The formal program will begin at 3:30 with the Color Guard from the Fort Hamilton High School Tiger Battalion JROTC. This will be followed by A Tattoo & Military Concert featuring the Kolbotn-Garden all-girls marching band from Norway. The program will finish with two songs from the Clann Eirann Pipers, a Bay Ridge favorite.

Hofmo added that they are hoping to have walking tours before the formal ceremony from 3:00-3:30 to enlighten those interested about John Paul Jones Parks’ monuments and cannon. However, this has not been confirmed, so please check beforehand if you are interested. SECM would also like to thank their co-sponsors Senator Martin Golden and Councilman Vincent Gentile. They suggest that attendees bring a blanket or chair. The event is free, but donations will be gratefully accepted.

The band will also performing by the flagpole at the Statue of Liberty and at Six Flags New England, New Canaan and New Haven. “The girls are extremely excited about this trip and they just love to perform!” enthused Halvorsen.

Watch the girls at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvP-qV1F7gE&feature=youtu.be. For further information call (718) 748-5950.

This article originally appeared in the June 20, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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