In a first for Cranleigh, an eclectic mix of participants joined Ben Parry (Director of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, London Voices, and one of the most in-demand choir directors in the country) and his band for a romp through two dozen of ABBA’s greatest hits. In a workshop held in the afternoon, and attended by a variety of pupils from several schools, parents and teachers, including the choirs from both Cranleigh Senior and Prep Schools, and Glebelands School, Ben led this scratch choir in learning the harmony and backing parts with infectious enthusiasm and fun. He is an expert in laid-back direction, but also in encouraging a high standard of choral singing and attention to musical detail.
His daughter Imogen Parry (now a member of the Swingle Singers) sang the solo parts with panache, style and more than a nod to Agnetha, but this workshop was all about having fun and singing well-known tunes. Some of the adult participants can only be described as ABBA super-fans, knowing the lyrics to all the songs by heart, and grooving along to every hit!
In the evening, the choir was joined in Speech Hall by an enthusiastic audience of all ages, who sang with gusto. If at times volume rather triumphed over musicality, there is never anything wrong with over-exuberance, particularly when it comes to 70’s pop. Perhaps the highlight was a sentimental rendition of Slipping Through My Fingers, before a rousing reprise of Dancing Queen had the audience on its feet. Come and Sing ABBA! was great fun; little wonder that the Swedish supergroup has sold over 150 million records worldwide.