Fotos: Brian Tomczyk, Niels Horskjær and Michael Opsahl

Michael Diamond – Music and Media Focus

The great American mythologist Joseph Campbell once wrote: “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” Such was the case for Norwegian-born harpist Trine Opsahl, who walked away from her career as a lawyer to devote her life to music. After graduating from law school and becoming an attorney for the Justice Department, as well as giving birth to two children, a series of unexpected circumstances led her to re-evaluate her situation and follow a different calling. As she explains: “When life brought many challenges to my doorstep, playing Celtic harp became an ever-expanding opportunity for my personal development. I intuitively knew that I had embarked on my true purpose in life.”
Born in Norway and moving to Denmark when she was six years old, music was always an important part of Trine’s life and as a youngster, she won a number of national and international awards for playing the accordion. However, the harp always held a fascination for her and in 1996 she acquired her first Celtic harp. She took to it naturally and began composing her own music on it. Since that time Trine has recorded three albums and performed in a variety of venues. However it is the healing power of music that inspires her most: “Creating and playing our own music is like a prayer. The music creates a sacred space that brings us closer to who we are and to each other.”
Trine was deeply influenced by the work of music thanatologist, Therese Schroeder Sheker. Music thanatology is: “a musical/ clinical modality that unites music and medicine in end of life care. Fundamental to music thanatology is an underlying recognition that the experience of dying is a sacred, spiritual process within which exists the possibility for a peaceful death. Central to the field itself is the healing potential of sound and the intention of deepest respect in music played prescriptively. The music thanatologist utilizes harp and voice in a vigil setting, to lovingly serve the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the dying and their loved ones with prescriptive music.” Although Trine performs at various concerts and events, as well as teaching Celtic harp, playing at the bedside of hospice patients is most near and dear to her heart. She was educated under the International Harp Therapy Program and officially became a Therapeutic Musician, who devotes part of her time to doing this work in two different Hospices in the Copenhagen area, in addition to hospitals and rest homes. She is also an advocate for healing music and harp therapy within the health care system of Denmark. As she explains: “The harp, with its soothing timbre and spiritual associations, has been revered as a healing instrument by many cultures for thousands of years.” Along with her music, she also incorporates holistic breathing practices.
Trine’s latest CD, Somewhere In A Hidden Memory, is steeped in her Nordic roots, while combining the transcendental qualities of new age music as well. The album contains 15 tracks, with a number of them being in the one to two minute-range in the first half of the CD. They created a feel almost like an interlude or motif within a composition, and I enjoyed the arrangement of the shorter and longer pieces. As I listened to the opening tune, “ To A Wild Rose,” literally within a few seconds I began to feel a sense of peace and relaxation as my whole mind and body became attuned to the vibrations of the harp strings. Trine speaks from experience when she says: “Music has a unique ability to bring silence and rest to a busy mind and to those who suffer from illness and distress.” And I agree that the harp in particular, is one of the foremost musical vehicles for healing energy, especially when the intention of the musician is focused. According to Trine: “While playing the Celtic harp, I travel through a place of immense beauty and silence.”
On the appropriately named “A Star In Heaven Is Born Tonight,” the plucked notes twinkle like celestial lights in the darkness and evoke an image of looking up at the vastness of the night sky. For me, a song entitled “Crossroads” elicited a sense of trying to decide which path to follow. This was perhaps inspired by Trine’s own times of challenge and change that led her to pursue her passion in life. Trine’s music has been licensed for commercials in Europe, and while listening to “Brother Sun” I sensed a cinematic quality, and thought that it would make an excellent soundtrack. Another example is “Love Waltz” with its romantic grandeur that sweeps you along in its dance, and shows what an emotionally evocative instrument the harp can be. Of course it is Trine’s dedication and experience as a musician and composer that is the wind in the sails of the instrument. One of my favorite songs was the title track, which created a wistful dream-like ambience that evoked rich visual imagery listening with eyes closed.
Trine has produced an enchanting album that reflects the diverse facets of the human experience – from light and playful, to tranquil and ruminative. Being able to use her gifts to help people on such a personal level is a sure sign that she has indeed, chosen the right direction for her life. In Trine’s words: “Music has always brought me so much comfort, freedom, and joy. It has lifted me up to a higher level of existence and brought me a glimpse of eternity – this is what music can do for all of us, if we just listen carefully, if we just let the music into our hearts.”