Allison’s choir says thank you for the music

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Members of the ABBA-inspired Andante Andante Choir… “You just get swept up into their music, it’s so upbeat and fun,” says founder Allison Pyke. Photo by Maddie McGuigan

WITH a love for the popular Swedish music group, ABBA, “honorary Swede” Allison Pyke started the ABBA-influenced choir, the Andante Andante Choir, about 12 years ago.

After giving up her position as the president of the Canberra Scandinavian Australian Association in 2001, Allison wanted to do something more “ABBA-ish” but everything was online, which wasn’t for her.

“I couldn’t see the point of making relationships with people you’ll never get to meet,” says Allison, 49, of Belconnen.

Founder Allison Pyke, left, and musical director Katie Cole. Photo by Maddie McGuigan

The point for Allison was to get out and do something, while having fun, so she said: “Oh well, I’ll do it myself!”“I toyed with the idea of a fan club but I thought what would we do? Talk about ABBA for an hour?” she says.

“I wanted to do something active and everyone loves singing ABBA, so I thought, ‘yeah let’s do it!’”

Allison still remembers the hype when ABBA first came to Australia in 1976 to promote their ‘77 tour, and says she has loved them ever since.

“You just get swept up into their music, it’s so upbeat and fun,” she says. “It’s very poppy and at the same time very serious.”

The Andante Andante Choir, named after a song on ABBA’s Super Trouper album, means “at a walking pace”, and describes the choir, which has a gentle approach to music, where people can come along and be inspired to have fun!

And what better way to have fun than to wear costumes inspired by the ABBA song “Money, Money, Money”, says Allison.

Sporting the same colours as the pop group once did, Andante Andante Choir members wear black clothes and a white feather boa, for the women, or a white scarf, for the men.

“People join us because they’re keen to have the pop theme, and have a lot of fun,” Allison says.

“I’ve had a lot of people say to me over the years that most Canberra choirs are ‘high brow’.

“We don’t read music, we learn it and sing it without the music in front of us.”

And, the best part is anyone can join, Allison says, members don’t need any singing experience.

But, like any choir, there’s four parts so don’t expect to belt out the melody, Allison says.

“A lot of people who come to us expect to sing the melody but being a choir we have at least four parts, sometimes more,” she says.

“When I sing the harmony I find it difficult because I’m so into ABBA, but once you get the hang of it, it’s quite fun!”

While Andante Andante largely sings ABBA songs, they also take on songs that are ABBA related, such as music from “Chess”, which was written by ABBA singers Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

The choir’s musical director Katie Cole, an ABBA fan from way back, works with the choir on its breathing techniques, vocal skills and music theory.

So far, its biggest accomplishment was when the choir performed for the King and Queen of Sweden in 2005 at the Swedish embassy.

Its next performance will be a Christmas fundraising event for Dainere’s Rainbow Brain Tumour Research Fund on Monday, December 4, from 8pm, at St Columba’s Uniting Church.

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Danielle Nohra
Danielle Nohra is a "CityNews" staff journalist.

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