A fantastic night at the Piteå orgelfestival (Updated)

Benny, Orsa spelmän, Pår Grebacken, the choir and organist Gunnar Idenstam

On Sunday 21 October, the long awaited Benny composition En skrift i snön was unveiled to an audience of 500 people at the Piteå Acusticum in northern Sweden.

The 11 minute piece with lyrics by Kristina Lugn appeared at the end of the first part of the show. It is subtitled as “a rhapsody for organ, mixed chorus, flute, piano and violins”.

And what a beautiful and moving piece it is…and VERY Benny! In the same way that Klinga mina klockor, another long Andersson composition, is made up of very distinct sections, so is En skrift i snön. There were a few familiar refrains, most notably sections derived from Benny’s score for the movie Sånger från andra våningen.

The evening’s programme consisted of a considerable amount of Benny along with members of Orsa Spelmän. In fact the entire second half of the concert was Benny with the fiddlers from Orsa (also joined by Pär Grebacken from Benny Anderssons Orkester on the flute), who ran through ten songs.

A surprise inclusion (and not on the published running order) was ABBA’s Dancing Queen played on the new Acusticum organ by organist Gunnar Idenstam, accompanied by Benny on the Steinway piano.

The Benny/Orsa spelmän set consisted of Klinga/Lottis, Anitas polska, Gladan, Annas visa, Hjortingen, Alla goda ting, Trolskan, Koppängen, Slängpolska efter Byss-Kalle and Monas vals.

And then, as a finale, we were treated to En skrift i snön for a second time.

The whole evening was filmed by a crew from the Lulea University with a view to offering it to SVT for broadcast in late January/early February 2013. Benny was keen to check the recording of En skrift i snön, commenting “I like to record things otherwise they are lost forever.”

Benny was tight-lipped as to where the recording may end up, saying that the BAO Christmas album was already mastered.

UPDATE 13 January 3013 – “Benny Andersson and the organ with 9000 pipes” is broadcast on SVT2 on 19 January at 2000.

The Acusticum itself is a lovely venue. Very modern with wonderful acoustics. There was a palpable air of excitement from the venue’s staff that Mr Andersson had agreed to play a very special part in the unveiling of the new organ. They felt that he was very much the type of musician who enjoyed taking on new musical challenges and that is why he was prepared to write a new piece of music especially for them.

Scenes from the Acusticum in Piteå

En skrift i snön (Music: Benny Andersson, Lyrics: Kristina Lugn)

Det blåser på månen
En blåklocka slår
För allt det som är
Som inget vill vara
Jag vandrar i vinden
Ett tidevarv går
Sen är allt det som skrämt mig
Inbillning bara

En Karlavagn landar hemmavid
Nu seglar jag bort med min vän
På höga moln av frid
Och evig ro
En liten stund
Och natten som väntar lär oss att drömma
Den saga som skrev oss
Den skrevs av en vän
En skrift i snön
Om hjärtas hem

Om jag vore vacker
Och gjorde dig glad
Om jag vore den som jag ville vara
Då är jag en älskling
På finpromenad
Och ett skyfall av tårar där stjärnor fara
Ett klockspel i mörkren
Hör du det
Jag följer dess ton överallt
Till bråddjup ensamhet
Mitt hus och hem
I nattens famn
Och näcken som spelar fast ingen dansar
En främmande fågel
Vem läser mitt brev
Svarta bläck ögon blå och kriser och kransar

En Karlavagn landar hemmavid
Nu seglar jag bort med min vän
På höga moln av frid
Och evig ro
En liten stund
Och näcken som spelar fast ingen dansar
En främmande fågel
Vem läser mitt brev
En skrift i snön
Om hjärtats hem

Related links:

More photos…

Articles in Swedish…

YouTube videos (not mine!)…

7 Replies to “A fantastic night at the Piteå orgelfestival (Updated)”

  1. Wow! It sounds like an amazing evening. Thanks for the report for those who could not be there.

    I can’t believe Benny finally managed to get his picture taken with the elusive Mr. Ice! 😉

  2. O Ice, that’s you? Nice to see you though. Well, is there a glimpse at the piece somewhere on youtube or do we need to wait for the TV broadcast? Must have been a fabulous night!

  3. I was also there and I recognize you Ice from the photos!

    Your summary from the evening is very good. It was such a magical evening way up north in Piteå, this little town in the middle of nowhere situated among vast and empty forests.

    The reviews have been good some review saying there was too little of the organ in Benny´s piece.

    Benny said in an interview on the radio though that this piece was not particularly written for an organ as he felt he didn´t have the skills for it as he is not too familiar with the organ as an instrument. He actually called the organizer of this event saying that if they wanted somebody to write a piece of music for the organ then they had better involve somebody else! The organizer said this was no problem luckily enough!

    It is however a beautiful piece of music and the organ IS included in it, an instantly recognizable Benny Andersson Piece of music. We were so lucky he played it twice during the evening!

    It was such a joy listening to Benny and the fiddlers without BAO. Don´t get me wrong I love Benny Anderssons orkester but hearing only Benny and the fiddlers makes you realize what great musicians the Orsa fiddlers are and how incredibly well they and Benny play together!

    Benny said during the concert that he had been 10 years with ABBA but 25 years with “Orsa spelmän” so this was kind of a celebration. I don´t know if people outside Sweden realize the impact Benny has had and still has on the traditional music in Sweden. The Orsa fiddlers also write their own traditional music, inspired by Benny!

    He also explained that “Gladan” was the first song he wrote for the fiddlers way back I think he said in 1987, and how he almost freaked out when he heard the fiddlers playing this piece of music for the first time as it sounded so good beeing played by them and the violins! One of the highlights of his musical career he said.

    The new organ is such an incredible instrument. It was also included
    in “Slängpolska efter Byss Kalle” and it was absolutely incredible – standing ovations!

    What can i say? It was a privilege beeing there!

  4. Thank you, Ice, for the great report and pictures, including your own, with Benny. I was there, too, after a long and winding journey (Brussels-Stockholm-Umeå-Piteå and back via Copenhagen). I have a few nice pictures myself and, most importantly, I was able to catch The Master just after he and Orsa spelmän finished their lunch around 2:00PM. We had a brief chat and Benny was kind enough to autograph my “Klang och Jubeltid” CD, which already had the autographs of several BAO members.
    Isn’t it incredible that so many fans from the early days still travel all the way up to the polar circle to see their idol enjoy playing music ? And also great to see that Benny stays faithful to the ABBA catalogue. At BAO concerts but also on this occasion, he couldn’t resist throwing one ABBA song into the pot. Admittedly, I had the impression that the organ had a problem following the rhythm of Dancing Queen last Sunday, but that’s easily forgiven !
    I look forward to finding the filmed footage sometime, somewhere ! Keep us informed if and when it becomes available.
    Last but not least, the new piece was great and it had “Benny Andersson” written all over its face ! Loved it twice.

  5. Great to hear that more fans attended the evening!

    I would like to add that not only Dancing Queen was played during the evening but during an improvisation on the organ by concert organist Gunnar Idenstam you could hear snippets of Money Money Money and I think also snippets of Thank you for the music.

    You can read about Gunnar Idenstam here:

    http://www.idenstam.org/

  6. Feels nice to be reading all this accounts from practically the other side of the planet.
    Nice review and specially thanks to you Adam; your words show precisely what I would look upon. That moment Benny shared about he playing -probably accordion or piano- together with the Orsa violinists and he listening to the sounds like that, as a revelation… is very alike to what I’ve been trying to facilitate all along these years.
    I’ve come to realize that musicians start from practising alone, then get together to form or play on a group or an orchestra, and the same way they construct a song or a piece. All of their way is embedded in the music they make…and so their perception of the music and the sounds comes as the sum of parts… they easily separate layers and identify instruments, voices and sounds. Particularly the composer.
    This is quite straight forward and Ok,however, distinct moments like the one Benny mentioned in your post Adam are buried deep in their final Albums and songs… and to most listeners comes to be an alien experience altogether.
    They waon[t be in the midst of violin clouds spiraling like delicately crushed glass notes over the winding freqs coming from the accordion!!

    At my beginings it was all very intuitive but quite early on as a DJ, started looking for extended versions, and for creative sound-wise music. Later on as a post-producer asked musicians to let the sound breathe, to relive those inner perceptual moments and to allow listeners the same, to be bold in leaving behind traditional song structures, to freely experiment timbres and colors… and a plethora of actions actually to ease listeners’ access to experiences like that one. I can’t help it, but to search for the bridge, cause I sense there is a need and a joy for sharing such… It does feel great when it happens.

    And well, from reading the comments here and some idea of the nordic ways, the whole evening might have been quite festive, with its rhythm changes, funny excesses and full of lifely details in what also was the Inauguration of an Academic Concert Hall. No wonder in that, actually lots of respect. Surely some perspectives wouldn’t see fit to release the event’s video or recordings. I would also agree to that… which is different to try to capture the spirit inspired by it and transmit it later, I do this as a DJ, the same way as a post-producer I try to help musicians remember… and transmit.
    Listeners and musicians probably are at very different poles when perceiving music, both share the wonder in ways that have yet to find a final mold to it (if it ever happens).

    //On this event announcement the first idea of Benny’s music that came as my guess of what it would be, was the grandiose “Skalgang”, and then I wished for the joy of my dear “Malarskolan”… I could have thought of the great Chess Synth composed lines or even like “The way all friends do” GX-1 backing lines… Still haven’t listened to the Rhapsody but is firmly written on the list of future music to listen, whatever way it comes out 🙂

  7. People outside Sweden tend to forget that Benny has travelled a long way musicwise since ABBA!
    When I read comments about people referring and talking about ABBA I think “hey that was a long time ago! Benny has done so much since then!” We Swedes have followed his musical career during all the years.

    The highlight of his musical career (I think) beeing the musical Kristina! Like somebody said in a review “forget about ABBA Benny (and Björn) should be remembered for Kristina!”

    A musician working with Benny (Anders Eljas) said in an interview that “Kristina contains Benny´s life effort onto music”.

    It was a magical evening up in Piteå and naturally the You Tube clipps cannot do justice to the sound of the music that evening! I will be forever grateful i attended!

    It was so wonderful listening to only Benny on the accordion and the Orsa fiddlers playing the traditional music where his roots lie som of it you can hear in the music composed for ABBA.

Please leave a comment...