ABBA may not have won a Grammy award this year, but fans of the Swedish quartet can forget all about that snub as they dance to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted pop-rock and disco group’s music at a tailgate-style party backed by an orchestra.
“It’s going to be a night of all the greatest hits,” said Kelly Ruggirello, president of the Long Beach Symphony, which is continuing its Pops Series with ARRIVAL from Sweden: The Music of ABBA at the Long Beach Arena on Saturday, Feb. 25. ARRIVAL from Sweden, a tribute act to the beloved original, has been together since 1995 and has toured the world playing hits like “Dancing Queen,” “Mamma Mia,” “Waterloo,” “Take a Chance on Me” and “Fernando.”
The Pops concerts typically attract audiences of about 4,000 that are all encouraged to congregate inside the arena and bring in their own food and drinks as they take in more contemporary music performed by the orchestra and musical guests.
“It’s the largest indoor picnicking in the world,” Ruggirello said, adding that people often come dressed in attire that relates to the theme of the show.
“If people feel compelled to show up in their greatest ABBA costumes they will not be alone,” she said.
The 10-member tribute band will be backed by 50 members of the Long Beach Symphony who will perform under the baton of conductor Anthony Parnther, the music director and conductor of the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra and the Southeast Symphony & Chorus in Los Angeles. Panther is also a huge ABBA fan.
“Who didn’t hear ABBA growing up? I heard a lot, so this is really exciting for me,” said Parnther, who will be making his debut with the Long Beach Symphony at the ABBA show.
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“The orchestra itself as a group of musicians is incredibly malleable and they’re just going to add another layer of depth and expression to ABBA,” he said. “And I look forward to seeing people cut a rug down there in the theater.”
It’s an ideal time for the Long Beach Symphony to pay tribute to ABBA because after a 40 hiatus the band made its return with a new album, “Voyage,” which was released Nov. 5, 2021 and is a follow-up to the band’s last album, 1981’s “The Visitors.”
The new music earned the band a few nominations at the 65th Annual Grammy Awards including prestigious record of the year and album of the year nods. The former went to Lizzo for “About Damn Time,” while Harry Styles scored album of the year for “Harry’s House.”
While the members of the Recording Academy didn’t totally embrace the band, the orchestra is waiting with open arms, Parnther said.
“What people are rapidly begging to learn is that the symphony orchestra can do anything, it can play in any genre,” he said. “There’s a difference between classical music and orchestral music and orchestral music is without genre.”
The Pops series continues with “Bravo Broadway!,” a night of Broadway hits on March 25, and ends with “A Night of Symphonic Rock Dance Party,” featuring songs by bands like the Eagles, The Doors, Led Zeppelin and others on May 20.
ARRIVAL from Sweden: The Music of ABBA
When: 8 p.m. Feb. 25
Where: Long Beach Arena, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach
Tickets: $30-$180 at longbeachsymphony.org.