IDAGIO Meets ... Tine Thing Helseth

The trumpeter discusses her new album, "Magical Memories for Trumpet Organ".

Photo © Anna-Julia Granberg

Norwegian star trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth's new album, "Magical Memories for Trumpet and Organ", sees her return to her musical roots with a programme mixing classics and new arrangements. She talks to IDAGIO about choosing repertoire for difficult times, working with a new label and sharing her own magical memories with her fans. 

Your new album is clearly a very personal project. Can you say something about how you came up with the idea?

Yes, it's a personal project, and also one that came together quite quickly because of COVID. Then we had time to record, together with Kåre [Nordstoga], who's the organist in the main cathedral here in Oslo. He's a great player and I just wanted to do something with him. A lot of people have some kind of relationship with trumpet and organ from different occasions: they've heard trumpet and organ together – they kind of belong somehow – so I thought that would be a nice album to make.

It reflects a lot of my personal memories from my childhood, too, because my mum plays the trumpet – not professionally but as a hobby – and played quite a lot when I was young. One of the stories I tell in the booklet is about when I was very young and would go with her when she played with the organist in the local church, and I just would lie there on the floor and draw something or whatever – this was before iPads and whatnot! But, being up in the organ loft, I had the whole thing of just experiencing the organ up close.

And what about the title?

In the album I've included just some of the melodies that I heard my mum play, as well as others – things I'd heard when I was a kid, and then also things I've played, of course. I think a lot of the music is music that people can relate to special occasions, which is the whole idea behind "Magical Memories" – we worked a lot on that title. So my idea is that I share music that has memories for me, that means something to me; but then also that the listener might have heard the music before, so have a memory already. Or maybe they will like a song on the album so much that it creates memories for them!

There's not that much more to say: basically it is what it is! It's nice tunes that I love to play, and hopefully people will like to listen to. And while there are of course some sad tunes as well, mostly it's a very happy album. And I love the cover, and that we went for pink – very happy, very fresh, which is what we need!

© Anna-Julia Granberg

You've juxtaposed globally famous pieces with Nordic works, as well as some new arrangements…   

Yeah, there are a couple of traditional Norwegian wedding marches and then also a beautiful Icelandic lullaby. I wanted to include some of the Scandinavian and Nordic sound, and also some Edward Grieg. Kåre and I made some new arrangements together, and a good friend of mine, Jarle [Storløkken], he did some arrangements as well – some nice tunes that weren't necessarily original arrangements for trumpet and organ, but which I thought would fit well.

I just wanted it to be a nice collection of songs … we call it "easy to listen to" in the best sense. "Easy listening" can often be a negative thing, but it's not. It's just an album of nice tunes, basically!

You said the album was in some ways born out of lockdown, did that mean that the recording process was difficult?

The lockdown has been very different in Norway, so it's been stricter now in spring than during the summer, when it was quite loose and we could do concerts – though only with few people, of course. We got to record the album just before it started to get worse again. We were both in the organ loft, but we were several metres apart and it's just very easy to follow all the rules in a space like that. And Oslo cathedral is very nice. It's not like cathedrals in other places – it's more modest. It's light and quite warm in terms of the atmosphere – a beautiful church.

Have you been working on other recording projects too?

I don't know what I can share at this stage, but let's just say that, yes, I have done other recordings during COVID times, too, so there will be other different stuff coming out at some stage, also on LAWO. This is my first release with them, and they're like an artist's dream, because they are just like: "What do you want to record?" That's their approach, which is different to a lot of others. They're based here in Oslo with a small team, and it fits me really well. I've been very lucky with all my labels, but it's nice to be with a small label that just has the kind of philosophy that I like. They ask me what I want to record and then we make it happen! Making a story out of the music is the most important thing.

"Magical Memories for Trumpet and Organ" is out now.

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