Benny Anderssons Orkester – The First Eighteen Years

With a brand new tour starting on Thursday, today Benny Anderssons Orkester were busy in rehearsals in Stockholm. We are able to bring you some behind the scenes imagery and a few quotes, as well as a guide to one of Benny’s longest running musical adventures.

22 July 2019: Benny Anderssons Orkester in rehearsals
22 July 2019: Benny Anderssons Orkester in rehearsals

‘Benny Anderssons Orkester’ (BAO for short– English pronunciation ‘bough’) was formed in 2001. In addition to the band leader Benny Andersson (accordion, piano), BAO consists of Kalle Moraeus, Leif Göras, Olle Moraeus and Perra Moraeus (violin, etc. who together make up the respected musical group Orsa Spelmän), Göran Arnberg, harmonium, Janne Bengtson, flute, Per Grebacken, saxophone & clarinet, Jogga Ernlund, double bass, Calle Jakobsson, tuba, Leif Lindvall, trumpet, Lars Rudolfsson, accordion, Jörgen Stenberg, drums & percussion, and Helen Sjöholm and Tommy Körberg on vocals.

Of all the performances I do or have done in my life, BAO is the one that means the most. They are like a family to me.

Tommy Körberg

The format of the live folkparks shows is familiar to discerning Swedish music lovers by now: in the late afternoon, BAO will take to the stage showcasing much of their more folk oriented material, and will then be joined by singers Helen Sjöholm and Tommy Körberg when the material veers off into standards, jazz, classics, boogie-woogies, schlagers, pop and back to folk and now how about some ABBA?!

By the time the short Swedish summer night darkness arrives, some three and a half/four hours after the show started, the dancefloor which is laid in front of the stage has hosted pop music fans alongside jivers and waltzers.

The sheer breadth of material for BAO to draw on after ten of their own albums, plus dips into Benny’s back catalogue (Hep Stars anyone?) mean there is no chance for anyone to get bored.

In addition to the fabulous music emanating from the stage, there will be monologues, maybe the odd bawdy joke, clap alongs, singalongs and of course much dancing!

Of the around 50 songs performed in concert, the vast majority have vocals (“When you have such talented singers as Tommy and Helen it would be silly not to use them as much as possible,” said BAO accordionist and theatre director Lars Rudolfsson).

We live in a bubble when we are on the road and we want it to go on and on!

Jörgen Stenberg

There is no doubting the enthusiasm among the band members for going back out on the road again, three years since their last outing.

Singer, guitar player (and occasional drummer!) Tommy Körberg told us:

“Of all the performances I do or have done in my life BAO is the one that means the most. They are like a family to me. It is truly wonderful to be on stage with them all. I’m champing at the bit to get going!”

Jörgen Stenberg, drums and percussion added:

“The moment we were all back together rehearsing, the years since the last tour melt away and it feels like only yesterday we were last together. We live in a bubble when we are on the road and we want it to go on and on!”

BAO was formed from Benny’s friendship and musical collaborations with the folk group Orsa Spelmän, which started around 1987. Benny had long harboured the idea of recording accordion led compositions and the result was his first solo album Klinga mina klockor on which Orsa Spelmän joined him.

Over the following years, various collaborations between Benny and Orsa Spelmän took place before Benny came up with the thought of adding extra musicians and forming an instrumental ensemble.

Adding the odd song with vocals also seemed a good idea and he called upon his lead from the Benny Andersson/Björn Ulvaeus musical epic Kristina från Duvemåla, Helen Sjöholm to lend her vocal prowess.

Benny Anderssons Orkster’s self-titled first CD was released in June 2001. Benny wrote all the music and Björn Ulvaeus contributed lyrics to the recording’s two tracks with vocals.

What followed was a recognition that this new project was lots of fun. With it came many opportunities for Benny to record compositions which had no other natural home.

Across BAO’s discography you will find a variety of folk influenced tracks, choir music, pop and even songs from film scores.

West End CHESS legend Tommy Körberg joined the group’s live performances in the mid 2000s and his vocals have featured on recordings alongside Helen Sjöholm’s since 2006.

Tommy Körberg, Helen Sjöholm and Benny Andersson at rehearsals earlier today
Tommy Körberg, Helen Sjöholm and Benny Andersson at rehearsals earlier today

Benny Anderssons Orkester has been a very Swedish project and as a result, the band have only occasionally performed outside of Sweden…Glasgow, London and Minnesota have all been lucky enough to host a BAO show.

There is an English language album (when Benny Anderssons Orkester became Benny Andersson Band) called Story Of A Heart which graced the UK Top 30 in 2009. The Benny Andersson/Björn Ulvaeus title track was also released in the UK as a single and was later covered by the group Steps.

Bästa Låtarna and tour merchandise
Bästa Låtarna and tour merchandise

On 14 June 2019, a ‘Best Of…’ compilation Bästa Låtarna was released featuring some of Benny Anderssons Orkester’s most beloved songs, many of which have hit top spot on Svensktoppen (Sverige Radio’s weekly record chart) including Du är min man which spent more than sixty weeks at number one and a record breaking 276 weeks on the chart in total.

The group have issued ten albums including the 6CD BAO in Box collection which also features two DVDs (an in-concert performance and the restaurant based musical documentary Benny Anderssons Orkester på nya äventyr).

Essentially, Benny Anderssons Orkester belongs to Sweden. The group’s live shows have become firm Swedish Summer favourites, with people in attendance bringing along picnics, dancing and singing the night away and keeping alive the ‘folkpark’ tradition so dear to Benny’s heart.

Kalle Moraeus, multi-instrumentalist, singer and TV presenter and an original member of Orsa Spelmän told us:

“I’m so looking forward to being on the tour with the band again. BAO is the best work/vacation one could possibly have. It is a pure joy from start to finish.”

If you are going to catch BAO on tour over the next couple of weeks, let’s hope the weather is on everybody’s side but above all we hope you have fun, because rest assured Benny and his group of merry men (and woman) certainly will.

4 Comments

  • We are looking forward to the Stockholm gig next week Friday (our fourth time already). Thank you for the music, Benny!!

  • I have been to Leksand, Stockholm and Trösa. The concerts are just pure fun. I love the variety of the songs and the new song Om du var jag, is pure fun, it’s so uplifting. I think I am now as much a BAO fan as I was an ABBA fan.

  • Great musicians great singers and a lot of joy! Having seen the BAO concerts since the beginning I feel he could renew himself but I realize Benny can do what he wants.
    All the ABBA fans at the shows are misplaced. They should realize he has moved on!

  • I have come across your music and quite honestly cannot listen to it too much. If only I understood the lyrics. PLEASE consider issuing in English. One of my favorites is Jag hor. Great melody. I live in Cleveland, Ohio home of the rock and roll museum. I grew up with rock n roll and love it but again your music is so relaxing at 65 years old. I listen to Benny’s PIANO cd much. Thanks for all your efforts.

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