On Thursday 26 January, Stockholm’s Royal College of Music, celebrated the opening of its new campus with an inauguration ceremony which featured a specially penned piece of music by Benny Andersson with lyrics by Björn Ulvaeus, Vi äger drömmarna (We Own The Dreams).
Benny, who has helped raise the money needed to fit out the new state-of-the-art building through his involvement with the ‘Music For Millions’ fundraising campaign, attended the prestigious event accompanied by his wife Mona.
Görel Hanser was also among the invited guests along with Göran Arnberg from Benny’s band who is an alumni of Kungliga Musikhögskolan (KMH) and wrote the choral arrangements for Benny and Björn’s new composition.
The gala ceremony, attended by luminaries and royalty including His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, began with a champagne reception in the futuristic, atrium style foyer that connects the original brick stables with the glass and steel structure of the new building.
Following the unveiling of a large brass plaque engraved with the names of the project’s most significant donors, KMH students performed a contemporary piece from platforms around and above the room before guests were invited to take their seats in the Royal Hall.
Once inside, the concert continued with a mixture of modern, folk and traditional works by acclaimed Swedish composers including Karin Rehnquist and Jesper Nordin.
The students performed the choral Vi äger drömmarna, towards the end of the performance. Benny took the stage briefly afterwards to acknowledge the applause and thank the conductor and musicians.
Interspersing the evening’s musical programme were a number of inaugural speeches and presentations, one of which included bestowing Benny with an Honorary Fellowship of Kungliga Musikhögskolan.
According to the music school, the title is only awarded to “particularly deserving persons of great artistic and educational inspiration and integrity”.
The inscription on Benny’s certificate translates as: ‘For rich and multi-faceted achievements as a composer, musical arranger, band leader and instrumentalist, a great commitment to younger fellow musicians and the support of KMH and its students.’
Benny is only the 9th person in the school’s history to have received the honour and he joins the likes of opera singer Birgit Nilsson, violinist Isaac Stern, record producer Sir George Martin and choral conductor Eric Ericson.
Speaking to icethesite after the ceremony Benny said in his usual humble manner:
“I have no idea why they think I deserve to receive the Fellowship, but I am extremely honoured and happy that they do. I think it is a very nice collection of names to be a part of.”
Benny also told us that he does hope to record Vi äger drömmarna one day, however, he doesn’t know who will perform it, or when or where it will eventually appear.
Thursday’s concert is scheduled to be broadcast on Swedish radio on 9 February and film from the ceremony will be included on a TV documentary about KMH to be shown later this year.
KMH’s housewarming party continues into this weekend with a packed programme of free concerts, workshops and events open to the public.