Bearden orchestra students perform with ABBA tribute band at Bijou


Bearden orchestra students rehearse for their performance with FABBA at the Bijou.

ABBA was a world-renowned pop group formed by four talented singers and songwriters in 1972. Selling more than 600 million records, they performed all over the world, creating classics such as “Mamma Mia,” “Dancing Queen,” and “Super Trouper.” ABBA’s legend lives on through The FABBA Show, an authentic tribute to ABBA.

On Feb. 6, The FABBA show made a stop at Knoxville’s Bijou Theatre on their tour. Some Bearden students may not be well versed in all things ABBA (despite a recent renaissance with the popularity of Mamma Mia), they would have seen four of their own at the concert almost two weeks ago.

Bearden’s Michael Pasto, Hannah Benson, Nicholas McIntyre, and Kalen Wilson were granted the golden opportunity to perform with FABBA in the “FABBA Quartet.”

The four got to go on stage and perform “Honey Honey” and “Slipping Through my Fingers” with FABBA.

The show’s producers reached out to find local orchestra talent to participate, so the four jumped on the opportunity for more performance experience and memories that will last a lifetime. 

Once securing their spot on stage just a month before the performance, the hard work began.

Wilson, a freshman violinist, described the group’s rigorous practice routine.

“Everyday, we did individual practice,” Wilson said. “At least once a week before school, we all got together to practice with each other.”

McIntyre, however, was a late addition, learning that he was performing only three days before taking the stage.

“I printed out the music as soon as possible and began to practice,” McIntyre said. “However, I would not say that the music was particularly challenging, so I was able to play the music relatively well within the given timeframe.”

When the day of the performance came, the FABBA Quartet’s nerves began to set in.

“Standing behind the curtain just eagerly waiting for us to get on stage was nerve racking,” Pasto said. “But once we got on [stage], it wasn’t that bad.”

Benson admitted that the group’s nerves were heightened during their one and only sound check with FABBA when they found out that they would not be able to hear themselves when playing due to their placement on stage near the drumset.

“We couldn’t hear ourselves at all,” Benson said. “[We] were just hoping that [we] were in tune and playing together.”

Like professionals, they adjusted and flourished – so much so that when they entered the stage for their second song, part of the crowd was cheering for them.

“Being up on the stage and everyone cheering was really cool,” Benson said. “Somebody yelled ‘Go Dogs’ really loudly as we walked on [stage] the second time and we were like ‘That’s for us! That’s not even for the band.’”

The quartet reminisced on their orchestra careers and all of the opportunities that music has presented them over the years. 

“Orchestra has played a major role in my life since sixth grade, when I first picked up the violin,” McIntyre said. “I did not realize then that my performance career would transform from small concerts at West Valley to individual violin recitals, orchestra clinics, and many other amazing opportunities including a show with an ABBA tribute band.

“While I do not see myself pursuing a career in musical performance, I do want to keep playing violin throughout my life, perhaps as a hobby or pastime rather than an occupation.”

To see the quartet and other Bearden orchestra students perform, their next performance is March 3 at Bearden High School, where they will perform pieces from Romeo and Juliet, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more.