Exclusive: Benny Andersson to record solo piano album

Benny Andersson at the piano that will feature on his solo CD
Benny Andersson at the piano that will feature on his solo CD

In an interview with icethesite Benny announced that he has decided to mark his upcoming 70th birthday with the release of a solo piano album.

“I’ve actually been thinking about it for a while but haven’t had the time. Now I do and it kind of feels right,” Benny said. “I think it’s going to be fun!”

Although he has not chosen exactly which tracks to record yet, they will all be his own melodies and he says that he intends to include pieces from every phase of his musical career from 1965 through to 2016.

“Some pieces, such as Mountain Duet from CHESS, are really suitable as piano solos whereas others, Waterloo for example, just don’t work,” he said. “It will depend on what feels good in my hands when I play.”

Benny hopes to start work on the project next week, but as he wants to record the album on the piano that is currently in his office rather than the one in the studio, he needs to get it moved first.

“My office piano has electro-magnetic sensors which makes editing easier,” he explained. “I fear that I am getting rather particular, but I don’t want to hear myself playing sounds that are too perfect,” he said.

Benny doesn’t plan to feature any other musicians or an orchestra on the release, making it the solo recording that many people have hoped he would make for a long time.

The album will be released on vinyl as well as CD and digital file formats. In addition, a book of sheet music will also be made available.

“I like the idea that anyone who can play a little, young or old, talented musicians or otherwise, can take it home and give it a go themselves,” Benny told us.

Benny is not sure if he will get the album completed before his actual birthday on 16 December due to the pressure of other commitments.

“Probably not, but we’ll see,” he said. “It would be nice if I could, but Spring 2017 is more likely,” he concluded.

benny-atthepiano3
Benny doesn’t plan to feature any other musicians or an orchestra on the release

There’s more…

Occasionally, Benny has played around on the piano, just for fun, as part of being filmed for this site and below is an example of Benny’s wonderful playing on the ABBA song Happy New Year.

Benny to play a ‘one-off’ organ concert in Norway

Benny Andersson together with BAO fiddlers Orsa Spelmän and keyboard player Göran Arnberg are going to play a one-off concert in Norway.

The Nidarosdomen Organ in Trondheim
The magnificent Nidarosdomen Organ in Trondheim

The appearance will be with the acclaimed organist Gunnar Idenstam and nyckelharpa player Johan Hedin at the 11th century Cathedral, Nidarosdomen, in Trondheim on Saturday 29 October 2016.

Benny has told icethesite that the concert will certainly include his track, En skrift i snön, written for the Piteå organ in 2012, as well as pieces such as Kärlekens Tid and Vilar glad. I din famn. Vocals will be performed by the Nidaros Cathedral choir.

Nidarosdomen features a 9600 pipe, 1930’s Steinmeier organ which was originally commissioned to commemorate the 900th anniversary of St Olav’s death at the Battle of Stiklestad. At the time of construction it was the largest pipe organ in Europe. A full restoration was completed in 2014.

Benny says that the concert was originally organist Gunnar’s idea, but that he had immediately thought it would be a really nice thing to do and was immensely looking forward to playing in the cathedral.

Tickets on sale soon – watch this space!

There’s more:

Benny on tour with Gustaf Sjökvists Kammarkör

On Thursday evening (22 September) Benny Andersson took the stage at the Uppsala Konsert & Kongress Centre for the first in a series of concerts with Gustaf Sjökvists Kammarkör (GSKK).

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Benny Andersson performing with Gustaf Sjökvists Kammarkör

The Kärlekens Tid tour showcases a selection of modern choral pieces together with all 11 Benny penned tracks from the choir’s 2015 album of the same name, including En skrift i snön, Anthem, Vilar glad. I din famn, Klinga mina klockor, and O klang och jubletid.

Towards the end of the performance, Benny delighted the 1,100 capacity audience and members of the choir alike, with a piano solo of Thank You For The Music.

The idea for the album was that of the choir’s founder Gustaf Sjökvist who thought that Benny’s music suited the choir perfectly because of it’s strong classical roots. Sadly, Gustaf passed away before the album’s completion, but the choir continues to perform in his memory.

The current tour is being conducted by Cecilia Rydinger Alin, Rector of Stockholm’s Royal College of Music, Kungliga Muiskhögskolan, of which Benny is a member of the advisory board.

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Benny Andersson and Cecilia Rydinger Alin at Uppsala Konsert & Kongress

Before last night’s show, Cecilia told us that the Kärlekens Tid project is one that is very close to her heart:

“The coming together of Gustaf’s choir and Benny’s music is something really special. It is such a joy to have been involved from the start,” she said. “Being on tour with the choir and playing at such wonderful concert halls is going to be a really fun experience.”

Benny said that performing with the choir was such a different experience than being on stage with his band:

“It is so much more intense than playing with BAO,” he said. “Then I am just one of fifteen. I can play or not, as and when I like and no one really notices if I make the odd mistake!”

Benny says that he would very much like to record another album of his music with the choir, but that it probably won’t happen for a year or two due to other commitments.

The tour continues on to venues in Gävle and Västerås before concluding at Eric Ericsonhallen in Stockholm on 9 October 2016. Tickets are available via the link below.

There’s more:

BAO on Tour 2016 in Instagram pictures and videos

Keep an eye on this post for lots of pictures of Helen, Tommy and BAO on their 2016 Summer tour of Sweden.

Thanks to everyone for uploading such special pictures, especially @BAOPRAO of course!

Helen Sjöholm #helensjöholm #bennyanderssonsorkester #leksand #bao

A photo posted by icethesite (@icethesite) on

Benny Andersson & Helen Sjöholm. #bao #bennyanderssonsorkester #sommarturne2016

A photo posted by Michèl Annink (@michel_annink) on

The inimtable Mr K!! #bennyanderssonsorkester #bao #leksand

A photo posted by icethesite (@icethesite) on

#bao

A video posted by ☎Melis🐮📵 (@melis__sjuttiett) on

Tack BAO. #kö #sofiero #bao #bennyanderssonsorkester

A photo posted by terander (@terander) on

Benny to release a new Swedish folk album

Benny Andersson has recorded an album of traditional Swedish music with the all-female folk group Systerpolskan.

Systerpolskan comprise of seven of Sweden’s most talented female folk musicians (three nyckelharpa players and four fiddlers), including Lena Willemark, who performed alongside Benny at KMH’s New York gala in March and Sonia Sahlström, grand-daughter of the acclaimed nyckelharpa player Eric Sahlström.

Benny and the female folk artists 'Systerpolskan'.
Benny and the female folk artists ‘Systerpolskan’.     Photo: Mono Music

Benny first met the girls six years ago at the Skansen Folk Music Festival.

At the time, although most of them knew each other, they had never played together as a group.

However, Benny has told icethesite how he immediately knew that he wanted to work with them:

“I thought wow! They are really, really good,” he said. “And I think it is so important to keep traditional music alive that I wanted to give such talented musicians a chance to be heard.”

The album will consist of a mixture of old Swedish folk songs together with several pieces composed by the group themselves.

UPDATE: A tune that Benny has written for a sound-book by Swedish watercolour artist Lars Lerin will now no longer appear on the recording.

Some of the tracks contain vocals sung in an ancient Norse dialect known as Övdalian, however, according to Benny it wasn’t planned that way…

“It just kind of happened,” he said. “A couple of the girls knew the words, the others joined in here and there and we recorded it all,” he explained. “They make a nice sound. It is actually quite beautiful!”

Övdalian is spoken in central Sweden by about 2000 speakers.

As well as producing the album, Benny accompanies the group on piano, accordion and synclavier.

Scheduled for release in September, the album will be available on both CD and digital formats.

Earlier this month Systerpolskan recorded a couple of tracks from their forthcoming album for an episode of Moreaus med mera, which will be aired on SVT in the Autumn and on 2 August they will perform live at Allsång på Skansen in Stockholm.

The group may play a one-off concert to coincide with the album’s release, but as yet, no date or venue have been confirmed.

There’s more:

BAO on ‘Moraeus med mera’

Today, BAO (Benny Anderssons Orkester) have taken part in the recording of an episode of band member Kalle Moraeus’ Swedish television show, Moraeus med mera.

Moraeus med mera - poster
Moraeus med mera – promo poster

Performing in front of a live audience under a big-top style tent that forms the temporary TV studio, BAO showcased two songs from their new album Mitt hjärta klappar för dig.

The album was released on 10 June and is available now on CD and digital download. A vinyl version is also going to be released soon.

The two tracks that were performed live, were the recently released single En natt i Köpenhamn (A night in Copenhagen) and a sing-a-long track Timmarna går så fort när man har roligt (Time Flies When You’re Having Fun).

Benny, Kalle, Helen and Tommy at 'Moreaus med mera'
Tommy, Helen, Kalle and Benny performing today at ‘Moraeus med mera’

When Benny recorded the album he invited the band’s all-female fan club, ‘Bao Prao’, into the studio to add some backing vocals to a couple of tracks and this evening the ‘Prao’ were again on choir duties.

During breaks in filming Benny and Kalle kept the audience entertained with funny anecdotes and some incidental music.

Earlier in the day, in keeping with the show’s format, Benny was interviewed at locations around Orsa and filmed enjoying lunch with the episode’s other featured artists including: Billy Opel, Malena Ernman and boy band, The Fooo Conspiracy.

'Moraeus med mera' guests being interviewed
‘Moraeus med mera’ guests being interviewed

The programme will be broadcast on SVT in the Autumn.

There’s more:

Benny and Björn celebrate 50 years of musical collaboration and friendship

Before the guests arrived: BAO rehearsing at Berns Salonger in Stockholm on 05 June.
Before the guests arrived, BAO rehearsing at Berns Salonger in Stockholm on 05 June.

Sunday 5 June 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the day that Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus first met.

One of the world’s most successful and enduring musical collaborations was celebrated in grand style at a private party at Berns Salonger in Stockholm.

The party was attended by 350 guests, all of whom Benny and Björn have worked with during their career, including Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Görel Hanser, Michael B Tretow, Tommy Körberg, Helen Sjöholm and BAO, Tim Rice, Murray Head, Judy Cramer, Peter Jöback, Thomas and Marie Ledin, Lill-Babs, Kristina Lugn, Björn Skifs and Janne Schaffer, to name but a few!

Sir Paul McCartney (Björn and Benny have often acknowledged the massive influence The Beatles made upon their early careers) sent a video message conveying his congratulations.

The celebrations commenced at 18.15 (a reference to the year of the Battle of Waterloo) with a champagne reception during which Benny and Björn both made short welcoming speeches.

While the guests enjoyed dinner, a video of old photographs and interviews from the 1960s played on a big screen.

Some of the guests took to the stage in musical tribute: Benny’s sons Ludvig and Peter performed Rock Me, Helen Sjöholm sang Where I Want To Be, Peter Jöback  Det kan ingen doctor hjälpa and Svenne Hedlund Isn’t It Easy To Say. There were also performances from Lill-Babs, Lena Philipsson and Pernilla Wahlgren.

Benny said that most of the entertainment was as much a surprise for him and Björn as it was for the invited guests, having been planned in secret by a committee consisting of Ludvig, Görel, Lars Rudolfsson and the evening’s toast-master Claes af Geijerstam.

“When we started talking about throwing a party about a year back, Ludvig suggested that maybe they should do something that we didn’t know about,” Benny told us. “It is incredible that so many people wanted to participate. We had such a great time and I think they did too,” he said.

Later in the evening Benny’s band, BAO (Benny Anderssons Orkester), entertained with an hour long set of songs old and new, including their hit Du är min man, performed with a comic twist of Tommy singing the female vocals inferring that Benny and Björn’s relationship was like that of a couple!

However, for many, the highlight of the night was undoubtedly when Agnetha and Frida joined Benny and Björn on stage for the second time in just a few months. And this time they sang!

The female half of ABBA performed a moving duet of The Way Old Friends Do, from their 1980 album Super Trouper, while Benny (piano) and Björn (vocals) performed another classic from the ABBA catalogueDoes Your Mother Know. 

Afterwards, Frida said that it had been a very special occasion: “It was absolutely amazing. A lot of emotions. It’s been very nostalgic,” she told journalists.

Benny told icethesite that he had no idea that Agnetha and Frida were going to sing. “I think it was just so wonderful that they did that for us. I think they were really brave!” he said.

The party continued well into the early hours.

There’s more…

En natt i Köpenhamn available now!

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.

En natt i Köpenhamn available now
En natt i Köpenhamn available now

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.

Album art for Mitt hjärta klappar för dig - the new BAO album, scheduled for release 10 June
Album art for Mitt hjärta klappar för dig – the new BAO album, scheduled for release on 10 June

Talking of live performances, you do know BAO are touring Sweden this summer, don’t you? If you don’t, here are the dates with links to buy your ticket!

BAO are Benny Anderssons Orkester featuring vocalists Helen Sjöholm and Tommy Körberg.