Every volunteer organization is dependent on enthusiastic individuals who are passionate about their cause and inspire others to participate. The same is true for BCC. A diverse church benefits from a variety of skills, and in the Bergen area, several people have lifted musical quality and artistry to another level.
By Johanne Reiersrud – Photos by Randi Hutt / Seasound
Dag Helge Bernhardsen (41) has worked with music in the church for more than 20 years. He manages his own business by day, but spends his free time doing what he is most passionate about: music production and mentoring for the group Seasound.
Seasound, which was started about 10 years ago, is located on Sotra outside of Bergen and has its origins in the local church here. It meets weekly and gives young people with an interest in music an opportunity to participate during their free time. The group is also responsible for some impressive musical productions that many members of BCC at home and abroad have enjoyed.
Enthusiastic and talented
Dag Helge Bernhardsen is a multitalented musician. He began producing and arranging music when he received his first electronic piano 33 years ago.
“I have never viewed myself as a musician, but I have always worked with music, and used it to express a message I personally believe in,” he says. “I was more interested in music than in soccer, and it was kind of my thing early on.”
Even though he does not consider himself a musician, his musical abilities have brought him small musical projects on a professional basis. His singing voice has made him a sought-after vocalist, and his proficiency on the piano is far above that of a hobby musician.
His foremost project, together with several other people, is creating a catalog of material for a web-based music portal, which for the past 10 years has been accessible for all members of BCC worldwide.
Weekly recordings in the sound studio provide an ever-increasing musical repertoire. Photo: Seasound
Music production brings joy to many
The church’s own songbook – Ways of the Lord – contains 472 songs about faith, hope, and power for living an active Christian life. Many of these songs are still relevant, despite being written many years ago. Almost every week new arrangements of songs with the church’s message are uploaded to the music portal along with daily podcasts, updates, and faith-strengthening messages from all of BCC’s conferences from the past decade, and archived material going back several years.
“I have never viewed myself as a musician, but I have always worked with music, and used it to express a message I personally believe in”
New studio brings new possibilities
Updating the music and renewing arrangements of the church songs began in earnest around 14 years ago, when the church in Bergen built a professional music studio for developing and producing new music. According to Dag Helge, before the studio was completed, a few individuals would record in a homemade studio in his house. They then copied and distributed burned CDs of their music.
With the new studio and several new musicians, their capacity expanded, and they were asked to record songs for BCC’s literature and media portal.
Facilities that allow for better development and cooperation have replaced the homemade studio at Dag Helge’s house. Photo: BCC
According to Karethe Opitz, another key member of the music production in Bergen, they were a small but committed group in the beginning. It was unfortunate that the new studio was not more accessible, but they eventually formed their own band and choir about 10 years ago.
“We wanted to meet young people who were interested in singing and music and give them opportunities to improve themselves. This was how the music association Seasound got started. In the beginning there were about 15 participants. Today the club has 47 members between the ages of 13 and 33 years old.”
Music and mentoring go together
Every year there are new 13 year olds who want to join Seasound. Besides being a good musician, it is important for older members to be kind and caring individuals as well as role models. “The work is two-fold. We have the music, and we also have work to do as mentors,” says Karethe.
“It has been incredibly inspiring to see how some young people, at first shy and a bit insecure, gradually come out of their shell. They discover they can do more than they thought. After concerts and recording sessions, it is uplifting to see how happy they are with their performance, and how empowered they feel,” she says with a smile.
Seasound performing at BCC`s international New Years` conference this winter. Photo: BCC
Making original songs and lyrics for daily podcasts
During the last two years, Seasound`s productions have become an even larger part of everyday life for many BCC members. They are now a permanent fixture in the daily podcasts. Each week, Dag Helge, Karethe, and the rest of the band/choir spend hours, distributed over several evenings, recording songs which people in all parts of the world listen to and sing along with.
It has been incredibly rewarding to be a part of the podcast project, but it has also placed completely new demands on the weekly production. “I believe 2018 will be our busiest year ever,” says Karethe Opitz. “Besides the studio productions, we have performed at six weddings during the spring, and are now making plans for summer and Christmas concerts. Our first concert will be performed at BCC’s summer conference in July, and we are really excited about it.”
Seasound`s band, with Dag Helge Bernharden. Photo: BCC
A wish to inspire active music groups in other local churches
Seasound and its leaders are collaborating with other churches to make music. “We are making numerous arrangements we share with music groups in other places. This way we get new vocalists to sing on the podcasts, where there could possibly be some who get a little tired of the Bergen dialect,” smiles Opitz. They hope to involve more local groups in order to increase the breadth of the music production.
“We are hoping to inspire other local churches to invest in music projects because is means a lot to for the local church and for us as well,” she says with enthusiasm. “Music gives us energy and community. With the treasure chest of songs we have in our song book, we are also along in conveying faith and hope to many people. Church life would not be the same without it.”
Karethe Opitz in the studio with other music enthusiasts. Photo: BCC