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ABBA Evolution

How the QPAC Chamber Choir will showcase the musical evolution and genius of the ultimate songwriting team

3 min read

Swedish super group ABBA thrilled audiences the world over in 2021 when the band announced it would release its first new music in 40 years. The latest album Voyage marks the most recent instalment in a musical story that began in the late 1960s when four young artists came together at a crossroads in their careers.

The QPAC Chamber Choir concert ABBA Evolution explores the group’s musical evolution and how four people so intertwined in one another’s lives managed life in the global spotlight.

In the lead up to the sold-out concert, we asked QPAC Choral Director Timothy Sherlock about what to expect.

Timothy Sherlock conducts the QPAC Chamber Choir Timothy Sherlock conducts the QPAC Chamber Choir. Photo by Darren Thomas.

The upcoming QPAC Chamber Choir concert features the music of ABBA, what do you think it is about their music that makes it still so popular to sing and listen to?

I think it is a combination of the meticulous songwriting, the sparkling vocal performances from Agnetha and Frida and the amazing production of the recordings. At the time, they used state of the art recording methods that producers still draw on today for inspiration. And, of course, there is the pure emotion in the songs: some joyful, some sad, some nostalgic.

We all know ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Dancing Queen’, but this concert will feature more than just ABBA’s most famous hits – what’s special about those lesser-known songs? Why cover the ‘evolution’ of the group in this concert?

We wanted to track the evolution of the songwriting from the pre-ABBA recordings to their new music from 2021’s Voyage because it really is a remarkable journey. Yes, there are the smash hit singles but some of the lesser known album tracks can really give an insight into the direction that Benny and Bjorn were heading in as they matured as composer and lyricist. ABBA Evolution is a chance for our audience to learn a little more about why they were so successful and how they grew as artists. 

The QPAC Chamber ChoirThe QPAC Chamber Choir. Photo by Darren Thomas.

ABBA was a group of four and the QPAC Chamber Choir is obviously many more than that; does the choral arrangement and choir of that many voices change the music? What does it offer audiences?

We’ve gone deep into the recordings to extract the vocal layers - Frida and Agnetha were extraordinarily gifted singers and Benny and Bjorn pushed them to deliver intricate layers of vocal parts. It is so perfect for a choral ensemble! I think our audience will enjoy hearing those harmonies reproduced in the live concert environment.

Do you have a favourite ABBA song? Why is it your favourite?

We will be performing one of my favourite songs which just so happens to be the last song ABBA recorded prior to their 40 year hiatus. ‘The Day Before You Came’ is a beautifully-constructed song about a woman recounting all the dull, ordinary things she “guessed she must have done” the day before she had a life-changing romantic encounter. There’s a profound sense of melancholy in the music and Agnetha’s vocal is plaintive and wistful. Many die-hard ABBA fans consider this song to be a masterpiece but it is not well-known by general audiences. 

What are you most excited for audiences to hear? What memories are you hoping they leave with?

I am excited to have this opportunity to celebrate the music of ABBA here in Brisbane, especially as we see them return after 40 years with a new album and a state-of-the-art ‘live’ hologram show in London. We’ll perform music from all of the ABBA albums as well as some songs from Benny and Bjorn’s musical theatre projects. I want the audience to hear and learn how the music evolved over the years and I want to leave them with a deeper understanding of the music.

The QPAC Chamber Choir is a contemporary community choir for adults aged 18 years and over. It is QPAC’s longest running public engagement activity and is proudly presented each year as part of the artistic program. For all queries relating to the Choir, please get in touch via choir@qpac.com.au

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