Swedish group ABBA was one of the most commercially successful acts in the history of pop music, selling more than 370 million albums worldwide. Active primarily in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, ABBA’s music has reached new generations due to the popularity of Broadway’s hit touring musical “Mamma Mia!” and its 2008 film adaptation. Back by popular demand, the music of ABBA returns to the Grand Rapids Symphony’s D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops with “ABBA – The Concert,” Thursday, Aug. 1 and Friday, Aug. 2, 7:30 pm at Cannonsburg Ski Area. Swedish band Waterloo, including an original ABBA band member, joins Associate Conductor John Varineau and the orchestra for two nights of authentically recreated ABBA songs, costumes and theatrics.
Formed in Stockholm, Sweden in 1996, Waterloo has quickly become the world’s foremost ABBA tribute band. They have performed in more than 25 countries including tours in the United States, Germany, Spain, Scandinavia and Japan. The ensemble has entertained sold-out crowds at The Royal Albert Hall in London and the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles and previously appeared with the Grand Rapids Symphony during the summer of 2008.
“I can honestly say that the last time we had Waterloo here for the ABBA performance, that was the most excited I’ve seen our audiences prior to a Picnic Pops concert – and the most excited I’ve seen them after a performance,” commented Varineau.
Audiences can expect to hear a variety of ABBA hits including “Dancing Queen,” “Mamma Mia,” “Take a Chance on Me,” “Fernando” and “Waterloo,” the song that won ABBA the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest and propelled the pop group to international fame.
“Face it, the music of ABBA is infectious and very singable. Our Picnic Pops audiences loved singing along out there at Cannonsburg,” said Varineau. “The concert in 2008 was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to repeating that experience.”
Concertgoers can also look forward to hearing Jan Kling, ABBA’s original saxophonist and flautist. Kling appeared on ABBA’s albums “Arrival,” “Voulez-Vous,” “Super Trouper” and “The Visitors,” famously providing the flute accompaniment on the hit single “Fernando.”
Audiences will be encouraged to channel the spirit of the ‘70s by showing off their best dance moves on platforms set up throughout Cannonsburg Ski Area. While Waterloo’s dance moves and costumes will be authentic to the time period, sequins and polyester are optional for most concert attendees.
“I’m looking forward to breaking out that polyester!” commented Varineau.
The grounds open each night at 5:30 p.m. for picnicking, pre-concert entertainment and free children’s activities. The family fun area, open from 5:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m., features free children’s activities including face painting, crafts and an instrument petting zoo. Concertgoers may bring their own picnics or purchase grilled items and soft drinks at Cannonsburg’s concession stand. Alcoholic beverages may be brought onto the grounds. Parking is free. Pre-concert entertainment features Brazilian-American indie pop singer Monica da Silva.
A variety of seating options are available. Reserved table seating near the orchestra must be purchased in advance. Chair seating is also available in a reserved, general admission area close to the stage. For general admission lawn seating, concertgoers may bring their own blankets or lawn chairs and choose their spot on the hill.
Advance lawn tickets are $24 ($22 for students (16+)/seniors (62+); $10 children ages 2-15). Children under the age of 2 are admitted free on the lawn. Other prices are: $34 for reserved chair seating; $49 for individual table seats; $392 for a full table of 8. Tickets increase by $3 if purchased on the day of the performance. Table and chair seating is available through the Symphony ticket office by calling 616/454-9451, Ext. 4 or visiting 300 Ottawa Ave NW, Suite 100, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Lawn tickets may be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at 800/982-2787, online at ticketmaster.com, or by visiting any Ticketmaster outlet. Tickets are also available at the Cannonsburg box office beginning at 5:30 p.m. each concert evening.
About the Grand Rapids Symphony
The Grand Rapids Symphony was officially organized in 1930 and is nationally recognized for the quality of its concerts and educational programs. Led by Music Director David Lockington, nine concert series are presented, featuring a wide range of music and performance styles. More than 400 performances are presented each year, touching the lives of some 170,000. Nearly half of those who benefit are students, senior citizens and people with disabilities reached through extensive education and community service programs. The Symphony’s Affiliated Organizations include the Grand Rapids Bach Festival, Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, Grand Rapids Youth Symphony and Classical Orchestra, and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses. The Symphony also provides the orchestra for Opera Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. To learn more about the Grand Rapids Symphony, please visit www.grsymphony.org.
These concerts are made possible with support from the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.