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ABBA Choir: Thank you for the music

Heather Wallace

There’s an ABBA song for every occasion.

Happy or sad, falling in love, getting your heartbroken or watching your child go off to school, ABBA’s sung about it. There’s even a song for staging a revolution in Mexico.

Australia has always had a special connection with the foursome from Sweden. Molly Meldrum championed them to the world through Countdown, their 1976 Australian tour saw fan-frenzy, and a whole new generation discovered them in the 90s through Muriel’s Wedding.

So it’s no surprise to hear that Canberra has its very own dedicated ABBA choir, the Adante Adante Choir. ABBA fans will easily recognise the name from the song on the Super Trooper album.

Allison Pyke started the now 21-member choir several years ago when she was looking for a group to share her ABBA love. Although there were ABBA-centric groups overseas there was nothing here in Australia.

“I was really looking to bring people together, somewhere to have a coffee and a chat and share a similar interest,” Allyson tells me. “I met a few people and the choir began to take shape. There is such joy in coming together to sing, and particularly when we sing these songs.”

Allison also broadcasts a dedicated ABBA radio show on ArtSound every Friday night, the Gimme Gimme Gimme Radio Show. “There’s a back catalogue of around 1800 songs, all of ABBA’s songs, the music from Chess and the solo work from Benny, Bjorn, Frieda and Anna.”

Cleo Kosmas found that joining the choir helped her rediscover her voice. “I love singing, and have been singings since I was two. My father was a tenor and I’d sit on his lap and we’d sing together. After he died I lost my voice, but being invited to join the choir made a big difference to my life. When you sing with other people there is a connection, and you feel what you sing.”

The choir is open to anyone who wants to join, and is made up of male and female singers. “Most people know the melodies so well, but what makes the songs so special are their harmonies. Our male members get to sing in harmony just as much as our female members,” Allison explains. “You don’t need experience to join us, you just need to be prepared to come along and have a go.”

The choir practices every Monday night at 7.30 at the St Columbus Church Hall in Braddon. Rehearsals have had a special focus for the last few months, getting ready to perform this Sunday night at the National Film and Sound Archives’ Eurovision Superfan Party!

It’s too good an opportunity to miss, celebrating both ABBA and Eurovision. Not only did the band win the 1974 competition with Waterloo, Sweden won last year and is 2016 host country.

The Superfan Party is supported by the Swedish Embassy and as you’d expect it celebrates all things Swedish, with everything from Swedish food to an Ikea furniture assembly competition. Throw in karaoke and costume competitions, the Adante Adante choir performing and the stage is set for a big night before the broadcast even takes place.

This will be a very different Eurovision experience for Allison. “I was up at 5am last year to watch the live broadcast on TV,” Allison says. “I was really torn, for years and years I’ve always barracked for the Swedish entry but last year I wanted Australia to win too! I drove to a friend’s place in the cold and dark, and wasn’t exactly sure where I was going. I thought it would be the only house in the streets with lights on that time of the morning but when I drove in the whole street was blazing with lights. So many people were up and watching the broadcast.”

This year Allison, Cleo and the choir will be performing throughout the night at the Superfan Party, even singing bits of ABBA’s own Eurovision hit, Waterloo, in Swedish.

Harcore Eurovision fans have a few options to watch it this year, either get up again in the cold and dark to cheer on your favourite country during the SBS broadcast, or stay off social media all day to remain unspoilt until the evening and join in the fun at either the NFSA or Dendy.

However you choose to watch Eurovision this year, one thing is for certain, ABBA will be in our minds and hearts and we’ll be saying “Thank you for the music”.

Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing

Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing

Who can live without it, I ask in all honesty

What would life be?

Without a song or a dance what are we?

So I say thank you for the music

For giving it to me


Heather Wallace

Heather’s career in arts and heritage PR spans 15 years, with highlights including working for Sean Connery at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and promoting Australia’s World Heritage places. Her blog, Myths and Misadventures, (http://mythsandmisadventures.blogspot.com.au/), is about life lessons we can learn from the Romans. You can follow her on Twitter @Missmythology. More about the Author

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