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13 November 2014

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You are in: Manchester > BBC Radio Manchester > BBC Radio Manchester Features > Abba and Austria

Ian with Sigrid and Marina

In harmony: with Sigrid and Marina

Abba and Austria

He lives, eats and breathes Manchester City. But what does Radio Manchester's Ian Cheeseman listen to on those long journeys to City's away games across England and Europe?

My musical tastes are rich and varied - I listen to everything from Sinatra to Bon Jovi, from Strauss to Faith Hill and from the Houghton Weavers to Barry Manilow - with my all-time favourites, by far, being Abba.

Moutains and valley in Austria

Austria: the Zillertal

In my youth, it wasn't hip to be an Abba fan but I've always loved their music and I'm a big fan of everything Benny and Björn have written together, which also includes the musicals Chess and Kristina and of course the brilliant film and stage show, Mamma Mia!


Perhaps the most surprising collection of songs on my MP3 player are the songs of Sigrid and Marina, Austrian folk music singers from the Salzkammergut. They're sisters and have beautiful voices that harmonise perfectly. Because my mother was German, I can understand the words of the songs too.

It is my German connection that also makes me a big fan of FC Schalke 04, who're from my Mum's home town of Gelsenkirchen, in the north west of Germany. I try to watch them at least three or four times a season.

In fact, the first Manchester City game I attended was their 5-1 win against Schalke in the semi-finals of the European Cup Winners Cup, at Maine Road in April 1970.

Sigrid and Marina on stage

Sigrid and Marina in Zell-am-Ziller

Back to the music though, and since I'm a naturally optimistic person, Sigrid and Marina sing the perfect types of songs for me. On the odd occasions when I'm feeling a bit fed up - perhaps after a City defeat - I'll listen to some of their music and I feel a lot better. If people could hear me singing along to their songs when I'm driving to a game I'm sure they're find it strange. 

To some people the songs might not sound very different to other folk music from Austria, but to me they are the best.

One other singer I'm really keen on is Marc Pircher, who's from my favourite place in Austria, the Zillertal valley, which is near Innsbruck.

During the summer of 2008 I achieved something really special, by seeing Sigrid and Marina in Zell-am-Ziller in the Zillertal and interviewing them as part of a feature I did on my trip, for BBC Radio Manchester. They are charming and genuine it was a great pleasure to meet them and hear them sing some of their songs.

If you've never visited Austria, or only been there for a winter skiing trip, I can highly recommend a couple of weeks among the stunning scenery and mountains that make it my favourite holiday destination. If you get a chance to see some local folk music - particularly Sigrid and Marina - I'd urge you to take the opportunity.

last updated: 24/10/2008 at 18:12
created: 06/10/2008

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