NSO Pops: ‘Rajaton: Best of The Beatles’ at The Kennedy Center

I had never seen an a cappella group accompanied by a symphony orchestra before and I was thrilled to see  that happen last night when the Finnish a cappella group Rajaton sang The Beatles hits backed up by the world-renowned National Symphony Orchestra. Boy can they can sing and the NSO play! The arrangements were written especially for the orchestra.

Rajaton. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.
Rajaton. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

Rajaton features Soprano Essi Wuorela, Mezzo-Soprano Virpi Moskari, Alto Soila Sariola, Tenor Hannu Lepola, Baritone Ahti Paunu, and Bass Jussi Chydenius.

Rajaton has sold close to 400,000 albums. Their album Joulu went double platinum at 60,000 sold and their album Rajaton Sings ABBA went platinum at 30,000 sold. They were formed in Helsinki in 1997 and perform all over the world.

NSO Pops Director Steven Reineke. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.
NSO Pops Director Steven Reineke. Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

The show kicked off with the NSO playing a medley of The Beatles’ hits.  During the orchestral prelude, the enthusiasm of the NSO Pops Director Steven Reineke stole the show. He danced and rocked out on his platform and smiled at the audience. He loves his job!

After the ‘overture’ Rajaton joined the NSO at the front of the stage with their adorable matching outfits. The women all wore blue dresses with different shades of color under the dresses with pink, blue, and green and shoes with orange tassels. The men copied the colors with the flowers in their jackets. Rajaton explained during a break they usually don’t perform in front of an orchestra. They did sing two songs without the orchestra to showcase their talents of creating instruments with their voices. Gorgeous! Rajaton means “boundless” in Finnish and that accurately describes their voices!

The first set Rajaton sang all the songs from The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album. The voices are incredible, but wish the sextet moved a bit more instead of standing still. Still a gorgeous set!


They sang 13 songs in the first set. They started out with “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” which set a great tone for the show. The second song “I Get By With a Little Help from my Friends” rocked! “Getting Better” was a cool mix. They sang the entire album-which included the following songs:

First Set Songlist:

  1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  2. With A Little Help From My Friends
  3. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
  4. Getting Better
  5. Fixing A Hole
  6. She’s Leaving Home
  7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite
  8. Within You Without You
  9. When I’m Sixty-Four
  10. Lovely Rita
  11. Good Morning Good Morning
  12. A Day in the Life
  13. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The second set was more energetic and the crowd engaged more. Rajaton moved around a bit more and danced a bit too. Even Rajaton seemed more energized the second set. They even included the audience with a sing-a-long to “All You Need is Love.”

The orchestra kicked it off with “Ob, La, Di, Ob, La, Da.” The second set featured The Beatles number one hits. They started off with “Ticket to Ride” then launched into “A Hard Days Night,” then a beautiful version of “Yesterday.” More hits followed (below) and the audience roared their approval.

“A Hard Day’s Night” then “Yesterday.” “Ticket Ride” had a cool harp piece that added significantly to the song. During “She Loves You” Rajaton danced around a bit. On “Penny Lane” the female a cappella members made awesome horn sounds with their voices.

Second Set Songlist:

  1. Ticket to Ride
  2. A Hard Day’s Night
  3. Yesterday
  4. She Loves You
  5. We Can Work It Out
  6. Come Together
  7. Penny Lane
  8. Help
  9. All You Need is Love
  10. Hey Jude
  11. Eleanor Rigby
  12. Let It Be

Bass singer Jussi Chydenius tapped his foot to every single song, and sets a mean bass line. Another highlight was the infectious enthusiasm of singer Hannu Lepola. He enthusiastically sings with his arms outstretched and crouching over to hit high notes. Lepola rocked it out on “Come Together.”

All the voices were astounding and the harmonies they sang were simply gorgeous.

If you love The Beatles, a capella, and a great symphony orchestra-then Rajaton: Best of the Beatles is a feast for you!

Running Time: Two hours, with one 15-minute intermission.

NSO Pops: Rajaton: Best of The Beatles plays one show tonight at 8 PM at 8 PM at The Kennedy Center Concert Hall – 2700 F Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 467-4600, 1-800-444-1324, or purchase them online.


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Marlene Hall
Marlene Hall grew up an army brat and has lived all over the world and in Washington, DC where she was constantly exposed to theater and music. Marlene graduated from the University of Virginia where she wrote for the Cavalier Daily interviewing musicians. Commissioned as an Air Force officer, she served 8 years. She now works as a realtor with eXp Realty. In addition, Marlene dabbles in improvisational comedy and has taken classes at the famed iO Theater in Chicago and the DC Improv. She is very active in the DC charity and social scene and contributes her time to veterans’ organizations Team Rubicon and Team Red, White, and Blue. She also was a supernumerary in the Washington National Opera’s Carmen with opera singer Denyce Graves. She loves the music and theater scene in DC and goes to as many concerts and shows as possible.


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