The ABBA Effect – Arrival brings the Swedish superstars’ music to Sun Valley

It is a truth universally acknowledged that for a woman of almost any age, the piano riff at the beginning of Dancing Queen brings on an irresistible urge to become just that. And on Sunday, July 7, the Sun Valley Pavillion will be packed with dancing queens, jiving along to the timeless tunes of ABBA.

A night with The Music of ABBA: Arrival From Sweden is the closest any woman will ever get to an authentic ABBA concert; the original band dissolved in 1982, and only toured the USA once. But the infectious beats of the fab foursome are deeply embedded into the country’s pop culture, and this authentic tribute band are helping keep the music alive.

Creators of such enduring hits as Knowing Me, Knowing You, The Winner Takes It All, Mama Mia and Waterloo, ABBA was made up of two couples from Sweden, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Formed in 1972, the group is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 370 million albums and singles worldwide. In the mid-nineties their music saw a resurgence, thanks to hit movies such as Muriel’s Wedding and Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and combined with the debut of Mama Mia the Musical (today the 10th longest running broadway show in history), a slew of ABBA tribute bands were born.

In 1995, Vicky Zetterberg saw one of those bands in her hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden. “They were from Australia” she said. “They were awful.” Having seen the real thing herself, 5 times, she determined to start her own tribute band and do it right. “I said, ‘Oh, my God, this is crazy. You can’t do ABBA like that, with fake Swedish accents,” she said in her thick, authentic Swedish accent. “And I decided to do a proper ABBA show.”

A professional singer, Zetterberg reached out to original band members Bjorn and Benny, as well as working with ABBA’s costumier Owe Sandstrom, to create the perfect tribute band. Eighteen years later, ARRIVAL has become a world-famous musical act, touring in over 35 countries to consistently sold out crowds.

ARRIVAL arrive in Sun Valley on Sunday, July 7. Get your dancing shoes on!

Zetterberg, with her mane of brown hair, assumes the role of “Anni-Frid” and Jeanette Norlander is “Agnetha,” while Fredik Bjorns is “Bjorn” and Leif Olsson is “Benny.” The group also regularly tours with several of ABBA’s original musicians and wears ABBA costumes specially created by Sandstrom for ARRIVAL.

Had you always been a hardcore ABBA fan or was this more of an opportunity that you decided to seize?
Vicky Zetterberg: I’d admired the way they did the music and I admired the way they sung. I’m a singer, my mother was an opera singer, and I’ve always admired ABBA. It’s a special technique they use, one which is really hard to do.

Was your mother an inspiration for your career as a singer?
VZ: She wanted me to sing opera, but I wasn’t really interested in it. Actually, I wanted to be a hard rock singer. I went to show school in Gothenburg and my teacher said ‘No, no. You will never be a hard rock singer. You’re a typical ABBA singer. He was right.

What can the Sun Valley audience expect from the concert?
VZ: We don’t go on and think that we are ABBA. We talk about ABBA, but when we’re doing the songs we try to recreate ABBA. We have the same look, the clothes we have are exact copies of the original outfits ABBA wore. ABBA was 50 percent music, but it was also the show and the clothes, it was the whole package. We also tell the story of ABBA, so they get a real ABBA injection. We want to show the new generation how ABBA was. You know everything about The Beatles, you know everything about Elvis, but people don’t know really that much about ABBA. That’s what we try to do. A lot of people don’t know that ABBA stands for the first letters in their name. So we tell the story, how they met, they were two married couples who just wanted to see if they could write some good music together. They couldn’t dream that ABBA could be this big. I think today even they’re still shocked by it – “Yea, we wrote a couple pop songs, there’s nothing special about that.” They’re typically Swedish, they don’t realize how big they are.

ARRIVAL is billed as the only authentic ABBA tribute band, and the fact that you have some of the original ABBA musicians playing with you really helps support that claim.
VZ: Yeah, sometimes we have original musicians that worked with ABBA, they’re 65 years old today, so sometimes they can’t go on tour with us, but as often as we can, we have them with us.

Do they have some great stories to tell about ABBA’s heydey?
VZ: I know a lot of stuff but it’s private. I know Bjorn and Benny and they don’t want us to talk about the private things. Benny supports us and said as long as you do it with respect and don’t talk about our private lives and that stuff. So it’s really important to me to respect that. If I knew anything I would never say it.

So the members of ABBA actually worked with you on creating ARRIVAL?
VZ: Yes, I talk to Bjorn and Benny. I never met the girls. But I always check out everything with them, and they know everything about the show. It’s really important to them that we do it with respect. They were two married couples, they were together for 10 years, and ABBA cost them their marriages. I think they deserve some respect. I mean they were one of the biggest pop groups ever.

What do you think it is about the music of ABBA that has had such resonance with modern audiences. What is it about the music that just keeps on playing?
VZ: It’s the way they wrote the songs. It’s happy music, people recognize themselves in the songs. Everyone has a favorite. Some people love Fernando, some people love Dancing Queen. They have done so many hit songs, almost 10 albums. It’s the music and it’s the quality, the same with The Beatles and Elvis, good songs. And people really get crazy at the concerts, dancing and screaming and going wild. ABBA’s music affects people.

It’s so true, everyone has their favorite ABBA song, even people who don’t know who ABBA are have a favorite ABBA song! So, what is yours?
VZ: It’s really hard. I have so many favorites! Of course Dancing Queen is a fantastic song. I also have a lot of the more songs that are not famous. Kisses of Fire, Angel Eyes, I have like maybe 20 favorites. All the songs are so different. But Dancing Queen is of course is a masterpiece, it is really, really one of the best songs. I Wonder is one I really like to sing, most people don’t know it. It’s so fun because I tell the audience about the story of the song. It’s important to me to educate the audience about ABBA. I want people to know that ABBA was four people from Sweden and I want them to know their names.

After all the success you’ve had with ARRIVAL, have you ever thought about tracking down that that original Australian tribute band and thanking them for starting your career?
VZ: Yes, really, I should thank them!

Jennifer Tuohy

Details: The Music of ABBA: Arrival From Sweden arrives in Sun Valley at 7 p.m. on Sunday, July 7 at the Sun Valley Pavilion. Buy tickets here. This event is suitable for all ages, prices range from $25 to $65. Additionally, Intermezzo preferred seating tickets ($75) and Diva Tickets ($150, include a party on July 6th and valet parking) are available through the Sun Valley Opera or 208.726.0991.

Eclipse at the Pavilion

The six members of Eclipse originally met while performing in a public relations ambassador-oriented group that was part of the department of Programs and Entertainment at Utah State University. They began by arranging their own vocal covers of popular songs and performing them on campus and in the Logan area. Increasing public interest and performance opportunities led to the recording of their first album, “Once,” which was released in April 2001.

THE GREATEST ABBA SHOW EVER!

The Music of ABBA Comes to Sun Valley

Sun Valley Opera and Sun Valley Resort announce The Greatest ABBA Show Ever! (performed by ARRIVAL from Sweden) in the Sun Valley Pavilion on Sunday July 7th at 8 pm along with the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra. Playing to rave reviews throughout world, this is the only group sanctioned by ABBA to perform their music. With voices, physical appearance very close to the original group, costumes which are all made under license from Abba’s original designer and the same mannerisms, people who attend the concert will feel as though they have gone back in time and were watching the original ABBA in concert.

 

ARRIVAL From Sweden works together with the designer Owe Sandström who designed and also owns, all of the original ABBA staging clothes. ARRIVAL From Sweden is the only band worldwide, who has the exclusive rights to make exact copies of the design protected staging clothes. It is the only group who has been given an unreleased ABBA song directly from Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA. The song “Just A Notion” is soon due for a worldwide release.

The group has toured 45 nations in addition to appearing on TV and radio throughout the world. Since 2007 ARRIVAL has made 25 successful tours in the US playing to sold out arenas and venues. If schedules allow some of the original band members will also be there. The original group’s songs topped the charts worldwide from 1972-1982. They will perform ABBA’s hits like: Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia, Does Your Mother Know, Take A Chance, SOS, The Winner Takes It All, Super Trouper, Money Money Money, Waterloo, Honey Honey, Fernando, I Do I Do I Do, Chiquitita, Knowing Me Knowing You, Summer Night City, Thank You For The Music, Lay All Your Love On Me, Gimme Gimme Gimme and more.

 

Joining in The Music of Abba is The American Festival Chorus and Orchestra which was founded in 2008 by Dr. Craig Jessop former director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He is the Artistic Director and conductor of 270 talented singers from Utah and an orchestra which is a professional ensemble made up of instrumentalists from Utah State University including members of the highly acclaimed Fry Street Quartet of Utah State University.

 

Tickets go on sale April 1st. Diva Tickets are available at www.sunvalleyopera.com or by calling 208.726.0991 and include a cocktail party in a private residence on July 5th, preferred seating and valet parking at the Sun Valley Pavilion at the concert. They are also selling Intermezzo tickets which are the preferred seats behind the Divas. General admission tickets are available at seats.sunvalley.com or by calling 208.622.2135 or 888.622.2108.

 

 

SUN VALLEY SUMMER SYMPHONY

Sun Valley Summer Symphony 2013 Season Dates
  • • Edgar M. Bronfman In Focus Series:  July 28 – August 2 (6:00-7:30PM)
  • • Orchestra Concerts:  August 4 – 20 (6:30pm)
  • • 2013 Benefit Concert, Wynonna and her Band:  August 8 (6:30PM)

Rocking out in Sun Valley with Creedence Clearwater Revisited

 

Creedence Clearwater Revisited rocked the Sun Valley Pavilion last night

Something strange happened last night. It was as if the Pavilion was caught in a time warp. It started out in 2012, with the regular crowd of Sun Valley visitors and residents sitting sedately in their seats at the pavillion, seemingly ready for the symphony to perform or for a San Francisco ballet reprise. Instead, however, they were waiting for the debut of Creedence Clearwater Revisited in Sun Valley. As Roger the roadie surveyed the crowds with an expression of amused disbelief across his wide, friendly face.  I asked him if this was a different type of crowd for the band. He replied, “Not different. Just more so.”

Roger, a member of the CCR sound crew, surveys the somewhat sedate Sun Valley Pavilion crowd prior to CCR's performance last night.

As the band comprised of American Rock icons Stu Cook and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford took the stage, the crowd politely clapped, emitting the occasional cheer. After a couple songs the cheering grew louder, and by the time lead singer John Tristao belted out Susie Q the Pavilion was transported back to 1970s. The crowd was out of their seats, dancing wildly in the aisles, and not a single muttering along the lines of “That young chap needs to sit down as its awfully rude,” was heard. This was a rock concert.

The band takes the stage.

Out of nowhere, dusted-off leather jackets and tight trousers accessorized with studded belts appeared, legs clad in cut off jean-shorts and more denim than you could shake a stick at were suddenly up and bopping along to the music. Sun Valley was rocking.

But it didn't take long for CCR to get the Sun Valley crowd going...

As CCR rolled out hit after hit after hit, the crowd couldn’t take it anymore and by Bad Moon Rising there was barely a bottom on a seat and an honest-to-goodness mosh pit had formed up front. Now that is not something you see at the symphony. When Stu Cook belted out “Are you ready to rock Sun Valley, Idaho?!” we really were.

Happy trails!

Mrs. Sun

Room from the Resort: The Symphony Cottage

The Symphony Cottage is nestled just down the hill from the Sun Valley Pavilion

As regular readers of this blog will know, I hail from the old country, where if you told someone they were going to be staying in a cottage they would expect a quaint, cozy abode complete with a chimney, gabled windows, and maybe a picturesque thatched roof. If they were planning on staying in Sun Valley Resort’s Symphony Cottage however, they might need to change those expectations.

For our fourth installment in the Rooms from the Resort series (where I take a peek inside the accommodations on offer at Sun Valley Resort, providing you with a traveller’s-eye-view of your Sun Valley vacation), we are pushing the word “room” to its limit.

A 7 bedroom mansion, the Symphony Cottage is pretty awesome. From a hot tub to a sauna, marble bathrooms to a wet bar, English country cottages would quake in their foundations at the sight of this palace.

At least one part of its name is apt however, the “cottage” sits right next to the Sun Valley Pavilion, making it the perfect accommodation for (a large group of) symphony-goers or any party looking to enjoy the summer’s many performances in the state-of-the-art facility, just steps from their front door.

Here are some pictures I snapped from inside the grandest accommodation on offer at Sun Valley Resort:

The "cottage" door is a beautiful piece of art work.

The interior of the door features a stunning sun motif, which is carried on throughout the cottage.

An elaborate stone fireplace (one of three in the house) dominates the living area.

The large split-level living room is decorated in traditional Lodge style.

One of the seven bedrooms in the cottage.

This tub could fit the entire Sun Family!

The spacious deck/patio area offers a great space for entertaining while listening to the sounds emanating from the nearby Pavilion.

Despite being located in the middle of the resort, there's a real feeling of rural living in the "cottage," with lovely views of Dollar Mountain over Sun Valley Lake.

If you are planning on staying here, drop me a line, I’d love to come hang out!

Happy trails!

Mrs. Sun

Details: Priced from $1,000 – $2,200 a night (price varies based on season and weekend versus weeknights), the cottage is newly renovated and offers seven bedrooms, lake view and hot tub, and a sunken living room complete with a wet bar. The 7 bedrooms include 3 King, 2 Queen, 2 Doubles and 1 couch bed. For more details click here or call 1.800.786.8259.


Cowboys, buggys and Ridley Pearson – just another Saturday in Sun Valley

Baby Sun with Grand Marshal Carol Knight in The Toy Store's 33rd Annual Doll Buggy Parade. Baby Sun loved the whole event, Little Sun (just behind her in the hat), not so much. "Mom, I'm not a girl." he complained to me.

This past Saturday in Sun Valley was the unofficial family day of the summer season. Over the past few years, two great family-friendly events have chosen to combine on this second Saturday of August, creating the perfect Saturday afternoon outing for myself and my two little ones. Thankfully, the dreadful smoke that had shrouded the valley the previous few days, caused by wildfires many miles away, was taking a much needed day off, providing the ideal afternoon for some fun in the sun.

Starting at 1:30 p.m. from outside the Sun Valley Inn, The Toy Store’s 33rd Annual Doll Buggy Parade saw a bevy of beautiful baby dolls all trussed up in their finest cowboy gear congregating for the traditional stroll down through the Sun Valley Village. The Sun family arrived a little late (as usual) and Baby Sun objected initially to being woken from her slumber. However, when she saw the cornucopia of dolls, dressed-up buggys and little girls, her delight was quite uncontrollable. When The Toy Store owner and parade Grand Marshal Carol Knight lent her her own baby doll, complete with fetching cowboy bandana, it was the icing on the proverbial cake and nothing could stop her now (not even a full orchestra and stone stairs… more on that later).

Ashley Brown of Ketchum pushes her gaily decorated buggy through the Sun Valley Mall. While the theme for this year's parade was Cowboy Bill, it was liberally interpreted. It's hard to separate a girl from her tutu!

The Doll Buggy Parade has been part of Wood River Valley life for more than three decades, moms strolling with their daughters today remembered when they were in the parade as children. Traditionally the trail of pushchairs, prams, strollers and anything with wheels that can carry a doll, winds its way from the Inn to the lawn outside the Sun Valley Pavilion, where it is greeted by the sounds of Sun Valley stalwart Tim Eriksen. Tim is a resort favorite, he has also been serenading guests, at The Roundhouse and Trail Creek Cabin, with his instrument of choice – the accordion, for many years. He told me that this gig is definitely one of his favorites.  “I love playing for the children,” he said.

The much-loved accordion player Tim Eriksen delighted the parade participants with some cheerful tunes, warming them up for the fun to come...

Following the fun of the accordion, the gaggle of girls (and occasional boy) proceeded into the Sun Valley Pavilion, carefully parking their buggys alongside its outer walls, just in time for the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s annual Family Concert. A lovely tradition, the family concert is designed to introduce youngsters to the joys of classical music, and each year this one concert is just for them. From an orchestra petting zoo to a far more relaxed atmosphere, it was the perfect first experience for Little Sun (4 and a half). He was very excited to sit in his chair inside the pavilion, “read” his program and feel like a “grown-up boy.” Granted, the highlight of the event for him was the family behind us sharing their Goldfish crackers, but I’m sure some of the experience soaked in.

Little Sun, sitting in the Pavilion, was very proud of his "program" - an instruments of the orchestra guide and coloring book.

Baby Sun takes in the sounds and experiences of the Sun Valley Symphony. But not her seat.

For Baby Sun, hopped-up on dolls and balloons, sitting still was not an option, and while the family concert is a tolerant one, after 15 minutes of me chasing her up and down the exquisite stone stairways and walkways we bailed and headed for the freedom of the lawn. But not before she had delighted at clapping along with the crowds and stomping her feet in time with the original composition Board Games, a unique percussion piece performed with metal gloves and wooden board.

Once safely on the symphony lawn, we relaxed and enjoyed the performance of Cowboy Bill. An original piece receiving its world premiere at Sun Valley, Cowboy Bill is the brilliant result of the collaboration of Boston percussionist Alex Orfaly and Sun Valley’s favorite homegrown best-selling author Ridley Pearson, who performed his poem in person at the concert. As conductor Alasdair Neale explains in this video, “It’s Peter and the Wolf meets the Wild West… it serves as an introduction to the orchestra… it highlights individual instruments and sections to introduce young people to the wonderful world of the symphony orchestra.”

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And it certainly did its job well, all the way home Little Sun was asking about Cowboy Bill and Bad Bob, the story had captured his imagination – and all without the aid of a television. Amazing! Catch some snippets of the music of Cowboy Bill here.

While a weary Sun family headed home, filled to the brim with music, dolls and ice-cream, we reflected on the extraordinary (and free!) afternoon we had had. Only in Sun Valley!

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

A delightful sight - baby doll buggys parked outside the Sun Valley Pavilion.


Tonight, Tuesday August 14, is the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s last 2012 performance. The season finale features Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Opus 64 and begins at 6:30 p.m.

For more pictures from the parade visit The Toy Store’s Facebook page here.

Puppies, Sopranos & Picnics

 

Baby Sun prowls the pavilion lawn for puppies to pet at opening night of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony season this Monday.

Monday brought my favorite evening of a Sun Valley summer, the opening night of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony. The glamorous soprano Deborah Voigt  lent her spectacular skills to an evening of Wagner, Wolf and Strauss.

Nestled snugly in a sliver of shade between the Pavilion lawn, where the serious symphony goers lounged, and the free-for-all behind us where children frolicked, the Sun family joined good friends for an evening of pizza, wine and sensational music.

Baby Sun is a year older, and a lot faster than she was at her first symphony visit, so my ability to completely enjoy the sounds wafting from the awesome orchestra were slightly hampered by her extreme excitement. What was capturing her attention, you ask? Dogs. Baby Sun’s first word was dog, and every time she spies a furry four-legged friend she squeals and rushes off to pet it. As any regular symphony attendee will know, dogs are almost a required accessory on the symphony pavilion lawn, and we were surrounded. There was a gorgeous golden retriever on one side, who patiently let Rose clamber all over her, and, yes, an actual puppy on the other side, whose owners seemingly brought him along to be “socialized.” As they were trailed by a band of children wherever they ventured, I think they succeeded.

Besides the secondary entertainment, Baby Sun did enter into the spirit of the evening, stopping mid-puppy-pat to clap whenever the crowd did, and even attempting to match Ms. Voigt’s thrilling arias with her own high-pitched squeals (I’m not seeing an operatic career in my daughter’s future). And therein lies one of the many things that makes the symphony so special, it caters to all. Nowhere else in the world can you enjoy world-class music for free, while relaxing on a lawn with a picnic and good friends, as your 4 year-old safely plays soccer a few feet away. It’s a unique Sun Valley experience.

For more from the first night of the season, the Symphony posted a slide-show on their Facebook page. And be sure to head there tonight at 6:30 p.m. for the second performance, featuring William VerMeulen on the horn. For a taste of the evening’s offerings, here are conductor Alasdair Neale’s video notes on the upcoming performance:

Video not displaying? Click here .

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

The symphony is back in town

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If there is one thing synonymous with summer in Sun Valley it’s the Sun Valley Summer Symphony. It is a Sun Valley original. There is no other place in the world where you can lie on a lawn surrounded by the peaks of the Pioneer, Smoky and Boulder mountains and soak up the sounds of a world class orchestra serenading you.

The symphony has been running for 28 seasons and is the largest privately funded free-admission symphony in America. It gathers together some of the best classical musicians in the country for two weeks every summer. There’ll be oboists from the Omaha Symphony, bassoonists from Baltimore, violinists from Des Moines, cellists from Fort Worth, as well as a slew of guest artists and soloists.

For me, the symphony is an annual must-do. Years ago, before Little Sun and Baby Sun were in the picture, I used to head to the lawn behind Sun Valley Lodge most every night for two glorious weeks in July and August. After a long day in the office, relaxing on the cool grass with a simple picnic garnished from Bald Mountain Pizza moments before, was simply heaven.

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Mr. Sun, who in our early days in the valley was a wildland firefighter, was always off protecting our forests during the summer months, so it wasn’t until last year that he finally got to share in my favorite summertime activity. We took the whole family along to the Pops evening on the first Saturday of the season. As with many musical events in Sun Valley, the symphony is very child friendly (if they get too rambunctious, an impromptu playgroup tends to form just out of earshot on the lawn). But on this evening my 3 year-old and 9 month-old were transfixed (probably all that classical music I played to them in the womb). Baby Sun was clapping and squealing along with the audience and Little Sun sat blessedly still for almost 15 whole minutes.

This year, I vow to try at least one night inside the Pavilion itself, I’ve always been reluctant to give up my much coveted spot on the lawn, but after my experience at the San Francisco Ballet’s performance earlier this month, I’m beginning to see the light.

Of course the lawn experience has been enhanced in recent years, with a large LED screen displaying the action inside for all the concerts, apart from the Edgar M. Bronfman In Focus series (which begins this Sunday). The season officially begins however, on Monday July 30 – and I’ll be there to cover it. See the full schedule here, but some highlights include Saturday, August 4th for Pops Night and the family concert the following Saturday that features the world premier of a Sun Valley Summer Symphony Commission, Cowboy Bill by Alex Orfaly. The performance also includes narration by writer Ridley Pearson. For the one night I may squeeze in up there without the children, my pick is Thursday, August 9, Musicians Choice Chamber Music, featuring Mozart and Brahms

Happy Trails!

Mrs. Sun

Orchestra concerts begin at 6:30pm, unless otherwise noted, and last 60-75 minutes. The Pavilion opens for concerts at 5:30pm. Pavilion seating is available from the East Entrance (West Lake Road) for each of the nine evening orchestra concerts. Ushers will direct the line for seating inside the Pavilion. Reserved seats will be released for general seating at 6:15pm.

“A League Of Their Own” Night with Geena Davis

“A League Of Their Own” Night with Geena Davis

Thursday, July 26

8:45pm

Sun Valley Pavilion

We’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the hit film “A League Of Their Own”, based on the real women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s and ’50s.

Join us for a FREE community screening of the movie under the stars and hear an introduction by Geena Davis

Don’t forget your picnic blankets and jackets.  Complimentary popcorn and drinks available.