Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Trumpet Trailblazer; Tine Thing Helseth, Who Is Making Her Proms Debut This Month, Is Breaking the Mould for Brass Players -- She Gives Igor Toronyi-Lalic Her Take on Women in the Classical Music World

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Trumpet Trailblazer; Tine Thing Helseth, Who Is Making Her Proms Debut This Month, Is Breaking the Mould for Brass Players -- She Gives Igor Toronyi-Lalic Her Take on Women in the Classical Music World

Article excerpt

Byline: Igor Toronyi-Lalic

BRASS players used to be easy to spot. You'd just look out for the biggest, burliest blokes propping up the concert hall bar. But 25-year-old trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth is breaking the mould. Later this month she makes her solo debut at the Proms in a new concerto by Matthias Pintscher at the Proms, a festival she used to watch on television in her native Oslo as a child and always dreamed of performing at. It marks a milestone in an increasingly glittering career that is upending the conventions of the classical music world.

Underneath Helseth's bubbly blonde exterior lies an obsession with her instrument that began even before she had started to formally learn it (when she was seven) at the feet of her trumpet-playing mum.

"I have a lot of childhood pictures showing me pretending to play the trumpet," she says. Her passion didn't waver during her teenage years, partly thanks to her mother stepping down as her teacher. "I love my mum but that would have been terrible."

The only thing that might have turned her head was football. She lived in the shadow of Oslo's equivalent of Arsenal, Valerenga. "But it was never a question. A lot of my friends didn't know what to do with their lives. But I always had this very strong idea of what I wanted."

At 18 everything took off. She was runner-up in the Eurovision Young Musicians contest and "suddenly I was travelling around the world being a soloist". Her school teachers tried to push other possibilities in her direction but she wasn't interested. "I've always been very ambitious," she admits. "Not in a manic, crazy way but I always wanted to do my best. I think you have to be like that for this strange life."

The trend for pretty girls flourishing in the classical music business is a live issue. Dame Jenni Murray recently lamented how "sex sells" in the industry. But despite the glamorous CD covers and malefriendly marketing campaigns, Helseth feels far from exploited.

"I've heard so many horror stories but my record company, EMI, have been great. They've never tried to make me do anything I don't want to do. We've always been on the same page," she says with a smile. "So far."

But then Helseth is a dream for any record label. She's open to collaborating with other musical worlds (she has a jazz quintet, for example) and comfortable segueing from the academically serious to the commercially Classic FM. And her talent is extraordinary. Her ability to transform the brassy trumpet sound into something soft, supple, lyrical and delectable needs to be heard to be believed.

She is always on the lookout for fresh ideas to put a spin on her work. "An orchestra has a trumpet soloist once every five years.

Whereas they have a violinist every week practically," she sighs. …

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