Meet Norway’s trumpet superstar

Miss Thing

Tine Thing Helseth

Photo: courtesy of Tine Thing Helseth
Norwegian trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth is an artist who marches to the beat of her own horn

Victoria Hofmo
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Norwegian trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth is an artist who marches to the beat of her own horn. This 30-year-old hails from Oslo and has been setting the world on fire with her unique trumpeting skills, performing in orchestras throughout Europe and as far away as Shanghai. She has also been asked to perform at prestigious events, such as the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Concert and the Memorial Concert for the Norway attacks held in 2012, where she performed from the roof of Oslo’s City Hall. The moniker “Superstar of Tomorrow” was given to her by BBC Music Magazine in 2011. I was delighted to learn that Helseth was going to be performing at Carnegie Hall with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra this February in a concert entitled “Fire and Light.”

It is always exciting to hear a performance at Carnegie Hall, not only for its history, but also for it acoustics. The impressive Orpheus Chamber Orchestra began the event with Rossini’s “Overture to Il Signor Brushino.”

Amid the orchestra’s black attire entered Tine Thing Helseth in a flowing peach boho dress. The audience responded with ebullient applause. They went on to delight in Albinoni’s “Oboe Concerto in D Minor, Op. 9, No. 2.”

In this case, Helseth’s trumpet replaced the oboe. “We trumpet players love it so much, so we borrow it,” Helseth said. The first movement, an allegro e non presto was playful and joyous. In was followed by an adagio, which began soft and soothing, as the trumpet came in bright and clear, adding a lovely depth and richness, evoking longing. The third and final movement, allegro, was upbeat, strong, and graceful. Helseth’s trumpet brought bright highlights. The blend of the trumpet and orchestra created a wonderful synchronized sound.

Helseth has been into the trumpet her whole life. “My mum played the trumpet as a hobby!” she told me. “So I heard it even before I was born. It was the instrument I wanted to play. I started at piano, but trumpet was much more fun.”

Tine Thing Helseth

Photo: Matt Dine
Helseth takes the stage at Carnegie Hall.

The second piece, Bach’s “Trumpet Concerto in D. Major,” BWV 972 after Vivaldi, was written for a trumpet and organ (originally harpsichord). Here was another sleight of hand as the full orchestra replaced the lone organ. However, their inclusion harks back to Vivaldi’s original version that was composed for violin and strings.

The first movement, allegro, was clean and clear. Helseth’s skilled rapidity of notes resonated throughout the concert hall. This movement was followed by a larghetto. The tender strings spoke like a lullaby, as the trumpet took flight and filled the space with long, tender sounds. Helseth subtly swayed to the rhythm. She finesses her instrument to touch all corners of the room. The allegro e piano followed, with frisky, frolicking festive stings. I loved the peekaboo, back and forth between the orchestra and trumpet.

Helseth then spoke to the audience and said this was their final piece. “I have been touring with Orpheus for two weeks… It has been so cool and amazing to travel with them…. We are going to do a song by Charlie Chaplin—‘Smile.’” Then an unexpected thing happened, Helseth quickly shifted instruments. Her trumpet, the instrument for which she is famous was not lifted, instead she used her voice, accompanied by the splendid orchestra. Her sweet melancholy interpretation filled the hall.

When reading about the program for the evening, from Carnegie Hall’s website, there was mention made of Rossini, who had composed the opening piece. “Even at 21, Rossini knew how to light up an opera audience—in the ‘Overture to Il Signor Bruschino,’ he had them laughing before the curtain went up, thanks to some well-timed taps on the violinists’ music stands.” So, I was waiting for a surprise, but not the one I received. It was totally unexpected and not listed in the program.

“My main goal is to just be me,” Helseth told me in an interview. “I don’t come from a classical home. My home as a child was filled with all types of music. That reflects the way I think about music today.”

My friend Geri Platzman joined me for this concert. I wanted to hear her thoughts about the performance and Helseth: “Very entertaining. A very talented young woman. Usually, in classical music you see a trumpet player as an accompanist, not a featured player. It was very different from anything I’ve ever heard before.”

This article originally appeared in the March 23, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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