ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’ arrives at Liuna Station at Brott Music Festival


When the cat’s away the mice will play.

And that’s exactly when Calgary-based bandleader Janna Sailor discovered the music of 1970s Swedish super troupers ABBA.

“I remember first learning about ABBA when I was young,” recalls Sailor, who grew up in rural Saskatchewan. “An elderly neighbor down the street got rid of the turntable and records that belonged to her children and gave them to me. I had never heard of anything like it, as I was raised in a strict family that didn’t allow ‘pop’ music to be played. So when my parents were out and I was home alone babysitting my siblings, we would pull out the turntable and crank up ABBA, Beatles and David Bowie contraband until bedtime. I still remember my little sister and I dancing to “Dancing Queen”. I think I still know all the words.

This should come in handy because Thursday, August 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Liuna Station, 360 James St. N., Sailor, accompanied by Martin MacDonald and current apprentice conductor of the National Academy Orchestra Frederick Alexander Michaud, will lead the NAO and Peter Brennan’s Jeans ‘n Classics troupe in the Brott Music Festival’s ‘ABBA: The Dancing Queen’ tribute concert.

When it comes to ABBA, Sailor, MacDonald and Brennan put all their love on the group.

“What I love about these shows is how I can instantly feel the audience’s love for this music, and everyone seems to have a memory or story associated with at least one of the songs,” said said Sailor, Founder and Artistic Director of the all-female Allegra Chamber Orchestra, NAO Conductor Apprentice in 2015 and NAO Violinist in 2014 and 2012.

Janna Sailor will be one of three conductors to lead the Brott Music Festival’s “ABBA: The Dancing Queen” tribute concert at Liuna Station on August 11.Photo submitted

“It’s also very exciting to see people who have never seen a live orchestra before. They came for ABBA, but they leave having experienced so much more. The orchestra always takes this music to another level musically and emotionally.

Ditto for MacDonald, music director of the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra, apprentice conductor of the NAO in 2006, associate conductor for two summers and thereafter frequent guest conductor at the BMF.

“ABBA is one of those timeless bands that connects to a wide range of people globally,” said MacDonald, who toured this show with Symphony New Brunswick in 2019. not stop you from humming or singing along to their music. It’s inventive and creative and runs the gamut of emotions and experience. More importantly, it crosses the generations. My seven year old daughter and my 76 year old stepfather love ABBA.

“What I love about our ABBA show is that it’s a lot like our other shows,” said Brennan, who arranged all the charts and will play guitar alongside keyboardist John Regan, bassist Mitch Tyler , drummer Jeff Christmas and singers Andrea Koziol, Stephanie Martin, Katalin Kiss and Kathryn Rose. “It’s totally about the music. We are not four people pretending to be Swedish or anything like that.

At the concert, expect all the big hits such as “Mamma Mia”, “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, “Waterloo”, “Fernando” and others.

“Between ABBA’s music and the great arrangements, it’s going to be a really good show,” Michaud said.

It is not yet known which conductor will conduct which aria. Rock, paper, scissors, anyone? Winner takes it all?

“I’m sure we’ll find out,” MacDonald said.

If the podium will be like a merry-go-round during the show, the conductors will have in mind the late founding artistic director of the BMF, Boris Brott.

“Boris loved the Jeans ‘n Classics shows, and I know we’ll be thinking of him throughout the evening,” Sailor said.

Oh, and if you clap long enough at the end, there will be an encore. In case you couldn’t guess what that might be, here’s a hint: it rhymes with “Prancing Bean.”

Tickets to or by calling 905-525-7664: $59, senior $54, student $25, child under 12 $10.

The Burlington Performing Arts Center, 440 Locust St., is bringing Jazz to the Plaza, free outdoor performances, rain or shine. Saturday, August 13: Amanda Martinez at 4 p.m., Shuffle Demons at 6 p.m. Sunday August 14: Clerel at 2 p.m., Laila Biali at 4 p.m. Bring a folding chair.

From August 16-18, the Hamilton Youth Philharmonic Orchestra is hosting a special Summer Intensive at McMaster University which includes mentoring HPO musicians, rehearsals with the full orchestra under the direction of Alex Cannon of the Guelph Youth Symphony Orchestra, an audition preparation workshop, musician-focused wellness sessions, and a final concert at LR Wilson Hall. Tuition: $225 plus HST. No audition required. Info and registration at


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