tenThing, an all-female, ten-piece Norwegian brass ensemble, will fill Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium with a surround-sound concert experience on December 13. Photo Credit: Anna-Julia Granberg

Get On Stage with tenThing, All-Female Norwegian Brass Ensemble

By: Lori Goldstein

Writer Lori Goldstein gets the rundown on the Norwegian Brass Ensemble’s performance, including ticket holders sitting on stage with Grammy-winning trumpeter, Tine Thing Helseth on December 13th.

tenThing, an all-female, ten-piece Norwegian brass ensemble, will fill Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium, with a surround-sound concert experience on December 13.  The audience will have the privilege of sitting onstage while Norwegian Grammy-winning trumpeter, Tine Thing Helseth, leads the ensemble in an eclectic mix of holiday songs and classical pieces appropriate for the season. The program will include Norwegian traditional and American Christmas carols, music of J.S. Bach, Bartok, and Holst, Corelli’s Christmas Concerto, even a brass arrangement of the piano preludes of George Gershwin.

The origin of tenThing traces back to 2007, when Tine was attending college at Oslo’s Barratt due Institute of Music.  For her 20th birthday, she asked three of her trumpeter friends to perform a concert with her.   At the college’s Christmas concert, the trumpet quartet again performed, as did the college’s string orchestra.  Tine and her friends realized they’d like to play arrangements of classical music similar to those of the string orchestra.

 

“We were four girls, so we thought, why not start an all-female ensemble?” Adding six other brass players, they formed an ensemble that was supposed to stay together for a summer.  “We had no idea we would still be performing 15 years later.”

A fun and exciting collaboration between musical friends, tenThinghave firmly established themselves on the international scene to great acclaim. They are celebrated for their commitment to outreach and access to music through a diverse repertoire that spans from Mozart to Weill, Grieg to Bernstein, and Lully to Bartok. tenThing released its first album, Ten, in 2012.  They are likely to release their second album in 2024.

 

tenThing first established themselves in performances all over their native Norway, eventually delighting a huge national audience by opening the 2011 Norwegian Grammy Awards. Soon after, the group came to international prominence at the BBC Proms in a performance at London’s Cadogan Hall.

Elsewhere in Europe, they have performed at a wide range of prestigious festivals and concert halls–the Schleswig-Holstein, Beethoven Bonn, Gstaad, MDR Musiksommer, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Rheingau, Bodensee, Engadin, Merano, Thüringer Bachwochen, and Bremen festivals in Central Europe–the Merano and Sienna festivals in Italy, the NCPA Beijing May Festival, and Moscow’s House of Music.

 

In Spring 2017, the ensemble embarked on their first American debut tour, which included concerts in New York, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and at the renowned Wolftrap Festival. tenThing also made their Paris debut at the St. Denis Festival in May 2017. Following their international successes, they returned again in 2019 for their second tour of the United States.

 

All of the women in tenThing have positions in other ensembles or orchestras, so sometimes they rely upon substitute players if needed. Supply-chain snafus don’t exist when it comes to brass personnel. “There’s no problem finding good players to join us,” says Tine. Most of the original players are there. They rehearse several days in Oslo before they go on tour.

 

Tine herself has a full-time career as a solo trumpeter, appearing with major orchestras worldwide, and with 12 albums in her discography. Her latest release, Seraph, is an album of music for trumpet and stringsBecause she spends so much time traveling alone as a soloist, Tine says, “It’s been amazing for me…to go on tour a couple of times a year with good friends.” 

Photo Credit: Anna-Julia Granberg

As tenThing’s artistic director, Tine collaborates with Norwegian guitarist and arranger, Jarle Storlokken, to choose and arrange scores for the ensemble, enabling them to play pieces of differing instrumentations. During the ensemble’s concerts, Tine acts as concertmaster. “I’m a bit of a dictator,” she says jokingly.  Tine also relishes the opportunity to speak to audiences about the pieces during a concert.

“It’s a nice way to get closer to the audience, the barrier between the artist and the audience disappears.  Then we’re all normal human beings, I feel more of a connection.”

 

The Princeton concert is the last stop on tenThing’s three-week, ten-concert tour.  The show is so popular that tickets for the 6:00 performance on Dec. 13 are sold out, but there are still tickets available for the second performance on the same date at 9:00 PM from the Princeton University Concerts website.

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