"Thank you for the music..." Rajaton, with conductor Steven Reineke. Photo by Jag Photography.

"Thank you for the music..."

Greg Finney

Hello Schmop-Tops,

This week, your friendly neighbourhood Greg did something I rarely get the chance to do. I went to a pops concert. It was awesome.

The season is kicking off in Toronto with a great start and I’m really excited for a bunch of upcoming performances from all the companies here, but last night was just what the doctor ordered. Sort of a sorbet course to cleanse the palette.

Once again the Toronto Symphony Orchestra hooked me up with stellar seats (thanks again guys, I really appreciate it), to see the TSO under the baton of principal pops conductor Steven Reineke perform the music of ABBA with special guests, Finnish vocal group Rajaton.

2016 marks 19 years in the business and Rajaton is on the top of their game. With worldwide record sales reaching 400,000 units, they hold a Double Platinum, three Platinum and EIGHT Gold Records. It’s easy to see why. One of the world’s premiere a cappella ensembles (before Glee, Pitch Perfect, and Pentatonix) their vocals blended seamlessly with each other and was a perfect compliment to the lush orchestrations provided by a supremely versatile TSO.

The show covered all the greatest hits, like “Take A Chance on Me”, “Money, Money, Money”, “Does your Mother Know”, and of course “Dancing Queen,” just to name a few. The program was hit after hit after hit, and Rajaton performed seamlessly through each set. There were also a few stunning moments of some lesser-known ABBA hits; notably, an a cappella version of “Head Over Heels,” and one tune that was completely new to me (but may become a new favourite), “When All is Said and Done”.

Under Reineke’s baton (who wore a beautiful plum velvet tuxedo jacket, and at times reminded me of Vince Fontaine from Grease - don’t worry, that’s TOTALLY a compliment), the TSO sailed through all the string-laden disco riffs and syncopations with style and grace. It was so nice to see the orchestra visibly having fun onstage alongside their guests. It was also just as exhilarating to see the audience on their feet and clapping along.

I would highly recommend checking out the TSO Pops series. It’s a great way to stay in touch with the orchestra and their incredible versatility, but it’s also nice to sit and relax and hear some of your favourite tunes from the pop side of life. I love Mahler too, but every now and again one needs a little disco in their life.

Their next Pops offering is a Christmas show with Jann Arden, Deceber 13-14, and you can snag some tickets here.

PS: Two Honourable Mentions! 1) Shout out to the rhythm section, so nice to hear you guys in among the orchestra regulars, and 2) the couple that was dancing in the aisles at orchestra level - you gave me life.

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