It’s full steam ahead in Sweden at the moment, in preparation for the release next month of the new BAO album Mitt hjärta klappar för dig.
The catchy new Benny Anderssons Orkester single, En natt i Köpenhamn – featuring a lead vocal by Helen Sjöholm – is now available as a digital download in many territories on iTunes, Spotify, and Groove Music.
The Mitt hjärta klappar för dig artwork is a clever mash up of live performance photos of the BAO members, with Benny Andersson’s accordion in the spotlight. As previously reported, the album will be released on CD, vinyl and digital formats and features 11 brand new tracks.
The new 11-track album by BAO (Benny Anderssons Orkester) is called ‘Mitt hjärta klappar för dig’ and is scheduled to be released on Friday 10 June in Sweden. The first single, due shortly, is ‘En natt i Köpenhamn’.
In a change from what was reported previously, the album will consist of 11 tracks. This is in order that the vinyl version (where space is limited) can match that of the CD release. The vinyl version is slated for a mid-July release.
Of the ten tracks with vocals (all in Swedish), nine have lyrics written by Björn Ulvaeus and one features lyrics by Frida Hyvönen.
As you may know, Benny Andersson has recently been busy recording and mixing the brand new album by his band Benny Anderssons Orkester. Today he has shared some enticing details with us about the forthcoming release.
Benny has told icethesite that the album (as yet unnamed), will be available on both CD and vinyl, as well as the usual digital formats and will be released in late May/early June 2016.
It will contain 12 or 13 new Benny Andersson penned tracks, just one of which is an instrumental.
Björn Ulvaeus has provided the lyrics to all but one of the songs, a ballad called Isabella Rahm, which has lyrics by Frida Hyvönen, the only artist apart from BAO signed to Benny’s Mono Music record label.
Benny told us: “Nothing beats the joy of being back in the studio with your friends, trying to record something you think is going to be great. The thrill of it is, you never quite know what the final result will be!”
There is no doubt that he has enjoyed working with his band again immensely and is very pleased with the way the tracks sound.
“I really think this could be our best album to date,” he said. “It is happy music!”
Instead of the mixture of mostly folk and traditional style songs that BAO have previously recorded, the new album consists mainly of 1940s and 1950s style dance music along with a couple of more ‘poppy’ numbers.
“The Swedish dance band tradition is very special and I thought it would feel good to have a bunch of new dance-friendly songs for our summer tour,” Benny explained.
“It is a bit different from our earlier stuff, but not too much so I hope. I think we are still recognisable!” he said
For many years the band have had a loyal group of female supporters, the ‘BAO PRAO’, who are known for their exuberant participation at concerts. Benny thought it would be nice to include them on this newest recording:
“There is a sing-a-long song, Timmarna Går Så Fort När Man Har Roligt (Time Flies When You’re Having Fun), so I invited them to add some vocals,” he said.
“Having them in the studio was great fun and they turned out to be much better and more professional than I expected, so they ended up singing on four tracks,” Benny said. “I think we shall now have to put a microphone on them at concerts!”
A single from the forthcoming album will be released as soon as it is finished, possibly by the end of April.
In July, BAO kick off an eight date tour of Sweden starting in Gothenburg, before moving on to Helsingborg, Kalmar, Linköping, Leksand, Uppsala, Trosa and finishing up in Stockholm. (Further information and tickets are available via the links below.)
In the autumn, BAO will appear in an episode of BAO band member Kalle Moreaus’ hit SVT show, Moreaus med Mera.
On Thursday 3 March, Benny Andersson joined students and alumni of KMH (Kungliga Musikhögskolan), Stockholm’s Royal College of Music, for a fundraising gala at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
Hosted by the Royal College’s Vice-Chancellor, Cecilia Rydinger-Alin, the evening was attended by around 150 prominent guests, including Björn Lyrvall – United States Ambassador of Sweden, Leif Pagrotsky – Consul General, Torsten Wiesel – Nobel Laureate, Richard Armstrong – Director of the Guggenheim Museum and contributors to the KMH Music Fund.
While the audience enjoyed a cocktail reception and dinner, KMH showcased performances from a variety of Swedish artists including Steffan Scheja (acclaimed pianist and Professor of Classical Piano), Lena Willemark (folk musician, composer), and electro-pop duo, ‘I Am Karate’.
Towards the end of the night Benny took to the stage and, after a brief introduction – during which he joked, “I am delighted to be back in New York. Actually, I am delighted to be anywhere!”, he played three songs: Money, Money, Money, followed by a piececomposed by and performed with Lena Willemark, Kolld ir å wärdi and for the grand finale with all of the evenings performers, Thank You For The Music.
Afterwards Benny told icethesite that he had enjoyed the event immensely:
“New York is a very special city and the venue was perfectly chosen for the occasion,” he said. “I think the audience remembered the old ABBA guy and they definitely got the message about the money, money, money!”
KMH’s Ida Lindkvist told us that they were very grateful to Benny for his support of the concert:
“Benny’s appearance was much appreciated by our guests, who greeted him with lots of cheering and a long applause. They all spontaneously sang along and Thank You For The Music received a standing ovation,” she said.
Although the gala was filmed by KMH, they have not yet decided when or where the footage will be released.
The Royal College’s new state of the art campus is expected to open later this year.
In the video embedded below, former ABBA member Björn Ulvaeus meets author, ethologist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.
The meeting was recorded on 12 December 2015 at the Cirkus theatre in Stockholm. The pair discuss Dawkins’ work on the front line of research and about their joint fight against superstition and fallacies.
Björn is a prominent member of the Swedish Humanist Association and has written articles about his humanistic approach to life. On joining the Humanist society, Björn said: “When I saw irrational, religious conservative values and hostility against science influencing society, I searched for an organisation that deals with these questions.”
Dawkins’ book Kampen mot illusionerna (Fight against delusions) seen in the background of the video revolves around the second half of his eventful life and relates his encounters and experiences linked to science and research. The organisers of the event were Fri Tanke Publishing House and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
When ‘Nikos Taverna’ opened its doors for the Mamma Mia! The Party premiere in Stockholm, the four former ABBA members, Agnetha Fältskog, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad, were all there to help kick off the event.
The evening got underway at 6pm, it was dark and minus 7 degrees outside but that didn’t stop ABBA fans from lining the pavement in the hope of seeing members of the Swedish supergroup arrive. Nearby, inside a specially erected (and heated!) marquee, the equally excited press jostled for space alongside the deep blue ‘Red Carpet’.
The first to arrive was Frida, accompanied by her long-term partner Henry Smith. Benny and his wife Mona followed shortly behind them. A rumour circulated that Agnetha had slipped in through another door, but at just after 7pm, she too made her entrance along the carpet. Björn’s arrival with wife Lena completed the set.
All four spent time posing for photos and answering questions from the waiting journalists before making their way into Gröna Lund’s recently converted Tyrol restaurant.
The premiere was also attended by Benny Andersson’s sons Peter and Ludvig, Björn and Agnetha’s son Christian and Björn’s daughters Emma and Anna. The star studded guest list included Görel Hanser, Micke B Tretow, Tommy Körberg, Helen Sjöholm, Gunilla Backman, Judy Cramer, Catherine Johnson, Matthias Hansson, Ingemarie Halling, Björn Borg, Alcazar
… and a handful of lucky fans.
Upon entering ‘Nikos’, the invited guests were greeted by Greek Gods bearing trays of Ouzo shots, before being shown to their tables.
Inside, the temperature was that of a Greek summer evening. Vines trailed the crumbling walls, fountains danced and the air was heavy with the scent of olive trees and jasmine. As the evening progressed, the light gradually faded as the sun went down and candles began to flicker.
A three course Mediterranean style meal, consisting of bread, dips, salads, platters of grilled meat and fish, potatoes and roasted vegetables, rounded off with a yoghurt and honey pannacotta was served to the tables.
While the guests enjoyed their food, the show took place around them. There is no stage, instead, the talented and vocally strong cast (led by Sisse Eriksson from the original Swedish production of Mamma Mia!), delivered their dialogue, sang and danced between the tables on the restaurant floor.
The actors often engaged with the guests and encouraged audience interaction. From the first bar of the first song everyone was singing and clapping along…Agnetha and Frida included! Sitting together on a table to one side of the room, the pair could clearly be seen holding hands and singing the harmonies to the ABBA tracks that they made famous.
Benny and Björn sat at neighbouring tables surrounded by family and close friends.
The show was split into three acts to allow for the service of food and drinks, but there was never a dull moment. During the breaks, the audience was entertained by performers in Cirque du Soleil style.
“As the four of us are here, Agnetha and I think we should do something” – Frida
Towards the end of the final act, ‘ABBA’ suddenly rose from their chairs, pushed their way through the crowded room and stepped up on to a small, raised, dance platform. The premiere audience went wild with whoops of delight and disbelief as the four stood together on stage smiling and waving at them.
Afterwards, Benny told icethesite that the, already iconic, moment had not been planned.
“It was entirely impromptu,” he said. “And it was the girls’ idea! Frida came over to me during the show and said: “As the four of us are here, Agnetha and I think we should do something”. I said “Yeah, why not, so we spoke to Björn and that is how it happened”.
Following the performance, tables were cleared and the restaurant transformed into a nightclub. Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Frida watched on from a first floor balcony as guests partied below.
Although the songs in Mamma Mia! The Party are all sung in English, the dialogue during Mamma Mia! The Party is currently only performed in Swedish. However, Björn has said that he is working on an English script translation and that he hopes to have an English language version of the show ready by Spring, in time for many international visitors to Stockholm for Eurovision 2016.
If the Stockholm production is a success, Mamma Mia! The Party may roll out to other cities around the world.
On Monday 18 January, the winners of the Swedish Film Institute’s 51st Guldbagge Awards will be announced, Benny Andersson has been nominated for ‘Best Music’ for his Cirkeln score.
The Guldbagge are Sweden’s leading film awards and considered the equivalent of a BAFTA (British Acadamy of Film and Television Arts).
They have been presented each year since 1964 in recognition of an outstanding contribution to Swedish film making. Nominees are selected by a 36 strong committee, made up of professionals with extensive experience in the film industry.
This year, Benny has been nominated in the ‘Best Music’ category for his score of RMV Film’s 2015 teenage fantasy Cirkeln (The Circle). He has competition for the prized award from composers, Jon Ekstrand for Det vita folket (White People) and Lisa Holmqvist for Flocken (Flocking).
Cirkeln has also received nominations in two other categories: Best Makeup (Jenny Fred) and Best Visual Effects (IXOR).
If he wins again, Benny’s prize will certainly differ slightly from the one he received in 2013, as each 1.2kg statue is a unique work of art, handcrafted in copper, then individually enamelled and gilded.
Benny has told icethesite that he will attend the award ceremony at Stockholm’s Cirkus theatre.
Monday’s ceremony will be broadcast live on SVT1 at 18.00 (GMT)