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Jul 27, 2019

Donij van Doorn Clicks With André Rieu

Photo: Place de l'Opera

Donij van Doorn Clicks With André Rieu 

Maastricht July 26, 2019 from "Place de l'Opera" magazine by François van den Anker. 
If you follow soprano Donij van Doorn on Instagram, you will see the enthusiasm with which she secures her experiences during the Vrijthof concerts by André Rieu and shares them with the world. That enthusiasm is just as present when she speaks, which François van den Anker discovered during an interview just before the last concert. 

André is a musician through and through. 
Sunday afternoon in Maastricht. The tables outside are already being prepared and on the twelve thousand chairs, bottles of water - with André Rieu's own label - are ready for the visitors. That evening it will be Rieu's one hundredth Vrijthof concert and his Johann Strauss Orchestra. This year's motto is "Shall we dance," which is why former members of the American band "The Village People," performing under the name of "Kings of Disco", have been included in the program. 

Dutch soprano Donij van Doorn has her own unique task: to bring tranquility with a large aria which - although she is convinced - will put visitors who have no affinity with the genre of opera, on the right track. 

Donij is many faceted singer, well-educated and with an interest in many types of classical-vocal music. "It once started with piano", she told during the interview when Place de l’Opera was with her five years ago. Two operas from the Dutch Travel Opera (Nederlandse Reisopera), in which the young Enschede resident performed as a member of a children's choir, which made such an impression that she decided to become a singer. 

She studied in Maastricht, was part for two years of the then so called "Opera Studio Nederland", sang with "Holland Opera" and "Opera per Tutti" and played Bubikopf in the highly acclaimed production of Ullmann's "Der Kaiser von Atlantis". (The Emperor of Atlantis) 

She has good memories of the six years of conservatory studies in Maastricht. "I had a super fun time," she says in one of the changing rooms in the Theater on the Vrijthof, which serves as a base during the André Rieu concerts. “I came to Maastricht from Enschede (in the province of Overijssel). I liked the city very much and we were a great group of students. ”In those years she sometimes visited the Perroen, a café on the Vrijthof which during the Rieu concerts offers dinner with a view from a raised terrace of the event. But frequently going out was - and still is - even in café city Maastricht - not for singing students. 

You have to sweeten the pot in order to move them 
She was in her third year when André Rieu was urgently looking for a soprano to fill in in the choir for a DVD recording in the Efteling. “I received a call and thought for a moment that it was a joke. But the next day I auditioned and immediately signed a contract. "The most important reason she said "yes" was that while working on the music, I immediately felt a musical click with André. "And so it almost became a real fairy tale: performing in the Efteling with the world famous Johann Strauss Orchestra."

After that introduction, the Rieu's invitations kept coming in. During an American tour, Donij sang the "Vilja Lied", even with jet lag, for literally thousands of people every evening. Due to those tours she was occasionally absent from her studies which was not very much appreciated by the teachers. “I always received good grades, but they started going down. They wanted me to spend more time on my studies. I understood that, but I explained to them that from those few weeks of touring I could pay for my master's degree.” 

“What struck me from the start was the enthusiasm, the pleasure in the music which everyone radiates around André. There are no differences here. Orchestra musicians, singers, technicians: it is all one big family, with André in the lead. That pleasure that you see on stage and which is so appreciated by the audience, that is real! André is an excellent employer. We are well taken care of. ”

We now know André Rieu the entertainer and entrepreneur better than André Rieu the musician. What does his musical side look like? 
“He thinks very much as an instrumentalist and loves
extremes, from a very large fortissimo to the very smallest. With a microphone - we are amplified in those huge halls and also here outside - you can afford yourself a lot. There will probably be people who think that such a huge rite of passage is way too big and I wouldn't do it in my other work as a singer, but here it is possible. Remember: there are 10,000 to 15,000 people who not all are familiar with classical music in advance, so you have to sweeten the pot to move them. And that works." 

What is that sweetness? 
“André is a true musician through and through, relying on his instinct. He knows what appeals to people and has his own unique style. We work a lot with special arrangements, although this year I almost do the entire aria "Ebben, ne andrò lontana" from La Wally original. Now an extra chorus insert repetition has been added. It adds to the aria and is experienced by to the people in a stronger manner. André knows exactly what touches people. The proof of that is provided here every evening, on the Vrijthof, for 12,000 people.” 

He is one of the few conductors with whom I can do an aria like" Caro nome "ninety times a year. 
After her graduation in Maastricht, a difficult dilemma arose in the development of this young soprano. She could expand her work with André Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra or join the Opera Studio Nederland, which would in two years teach her a lot about singing, the profession and everything that comes with it. She chose the studio, and she certainly did not regret it. 

How did that go during that period, when you were faced with that choice? 
Hans Nieuwenhuis, the leader of the Opera Studio, came to Maastricht to watch an imitation performance led by Roger Smeets at the conservatory. He invited me to the studio's audition rounds. André Rieu was also persuing me during that period; he wanted me as a soloist. But I still wanted to learn a lot more. During that first tour in America I was young and inexperienced and I wanted to continue with opera. I had a really good time with the Opera Studio Nederland - two years later they closed due to cut backs. You received many singing lessons and coachings. We had physical training three times a week and good conductors came to work with us."

Was there also a choice between the profession and the big money? 
“No. If I had opted for the money, I would have studied law, haha! I wanted to develop further. With the orchestra you tour the world with one aria. I am very happy with the choice I made at the time. André, who really wanted me for his tours, understood and supported my decision." 

In addition to the huge Rieu productions, your resume also mentions smaller, highly artistic projects. How does that work together? 
“I see myself as a versatile singer, who can serve many genres. I like to mix that up. Since I have a permanent contract with Rieu, I can't do much else in addition to that. A performance such as here at the Vrijthof puts a lot of pressure on you. In the short time I have on stage here, I really have to go all out with my aria. With a role in an opera you can build that up more and you have more time to make yourself heard. Luckily I manage to play a role in an opera every summer, and the organization here affords me that oppertunity. André allows me to do that." 

Your contribution to the performance is a large classical aria. Which one have you performed in recent years? 
"After it "Vilja Lied" came "Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiss". And I did an "Ave Maria", but that didn't feel right in this setting. "È strano ... Ah, big "lazy ", the aria of Violetta from La traviata, that was really a piece in which I could sink my teeth in. Fine tuning, growing and doing it better every night. That's possible with André, originally he is a violinist, but he is one of the few conductors with whom I could to do an aria like "Caro nome" from Rigoletto ninety times a year. He is easy to read and we have an excellent balance in giving and taking. If I want to speed up somewherein tempo , not every conductor will go along with that, but André sees that and notices how I am on that day. We can challenge each other on stage, sometimes he lets a note last much longer or I demand something from him. That interaction is very exciting."

Do you participate in the choice of your pieces in the performance? 
"Fortunately yes! A few months before the Vrijthof concerts we start thinking about my part in the program. For this year I wanted to sing Catalia's aria "Ebben, ne andrò lontana", but André came up with different ideas. Of course I very graciously sang that first. Then I was afforded the time to sing the aria from La Wally. I then saw André's tears and thought: yes! I scored! André is very sincere and honest about that. The opera "La Wally" is relatively unknown, certainly with our audience. I am very happy that André is willing to listen to and acknowledge what suits me." 

You once said: André Rieu has really changed something with classical music. What is that? 
“That is an interesting question. I do not really have the image that our visitors afterwards will immediately consult the Dutch National Opera program. I know that André would like to convey the pleasures of classical music and during the performance I only provide opera the part. I do that with pride. I hope, no, I know that there are always a few people who liked the aria and later on will listen to other recordings. In that way they discover from which opera the piece is. These people also come to my other concerts and recitals. I use my own family and friends just as an example: they are not into classical music, but when they come to a performance of mine, they have to let that music come in without knowing anything about it. If you touch someone, I think that has nothing to do with what he or she knows." 

I am just an average person
When the conversation has ended, Donij shows how the Vrijthof is being prepared for the one hundredth performance for that evening in "the Maastricht living room", as the square is known locally. There are fans already and heads turn as the soprano passes by. The security staff also knows her; the crew pass is not necessary when we enter the well-guarded area for a photo. 

André Rieu is a world star, do you ever pinch yourself when you walk around in between those 12,000 seats and on stage? 
“I am well aware that I am on stage with a living legend, who by the way is also a very nice person. But I am just an average person who enjoyshaving everything being done for me during the tours, but who also just likes to go shopping at home. After this series of concerts I will rehearse for something completely different, the opera "La Grotta di Trofonio" by Salieri, which this year will be performed by Opera Nijetrijne in the nature reserve between Friesland and Overijssel (two provinces in the Netherlands). Director Nynke van den Bergh and I have been wanting to work together for a long time and that is now going to happen with my debut with Nijetrijne. I am really looking forward to that."

Thank You Ineke for the article and your and John's  Translation!
All other photos by André’s photographer Marcel van Hoorn
Place de l'Opera ►

Jul 21, 2019

100th Rieu Concert On The Vrijthof In Maastricht

The 100th Concert On The Vrijthof Square In Maastricht

The Limburger - July 21st 2019: Maastricht honored it's most famous son, André Rieu Sunday evening July 21st, during the one hundredth concert of the violinist and his Johann Strauss Orchestra on the Vrijthof. Mayor Annemarie Penn-te Strake presented him with a bronze plaque which she stated "will remain on the square forever". She then danced a waltz with the stand alone violinist.

André Rieu received this Maastricht token of appreciation "for his outstanding achievements for the city," according to the mayor, Mrs. Penn-te Strake. “We have been thinking: what should we give you? You have already received all the distinctions of the city! That is why we choose a plaque that will be placed on this square, on the very spot where the stage is now. And it will stay there forever, even when we are no longer here." The plaque includes the words "eus ouge bloonke bij dien glories" (our eyes twinkled with your success), which is a line from the Maastricht anthem.      


Rieu reacted emotionally. "I am flabbergasted, moved and honored to receive this award from my hometown. It is great to make so many people happy with our music each year, from all over the world. I am also very proud that our beautiful Maastricht has been put on the international map by these concerts.”

Rieu started in 2005 with his concerts on - what he calls - "The most beautiful square in the country." Soon the shows in the hometown of the violinist and orchestra leader, attracted fans from all over the world. During this year's concert series, which began on July 4 and ended this Sunday evening July 21st, with no less than 150,000 people from 99 different countries who all came to the Vrijthof. That too is a record. On Friday evening, Rieu received the one millionth visitor to the Vrijthof concerts.

Rieu is celebrating his 70th birthday this Fall and is going on tour to Colombia, Chile, Spain and Portugal after the summer. In December he will conduct Christmas concerts for the first time in his hometown. These concerts will take place in the MECC (Maastricht Exhibition and Conference Center).

On July 27 and 28, the film of his most recent concert series in Maastricht 2019 will be premiered worldwide in three thousand cinemas.

Thank You to Ineke for the Translation

Jul 19, 2019

Royal Brass Band Sainte Cecile Celebrates With André Rieu

Royal Brass Band Sainte Cecile  
Celebrates Together With André Rieu

The Limburger: July 19, 2019 by Rob Cobben

Next Sunday André Rieu will perform his one hundredth concert on the Vrijthof square in Maastricht. The Royal Marching Band Sainte Cécile celebrates the party with him. The Marching Band which hails from Eijsden (town) provides the support and atmosphere before every concert.

Long Si Drummen had already heard many stories about the Vrijthof concerts from her colleagues. "And they were all positive," says the eighteen-year-old clarinetist from Eijsden. "It made me very curious."

On Thursday, July 4, she was allowed to join the Vrijthof performance for the first time. Making music for almost 11,000 people who are waiting for the concert of Maastricht's most famous resident, André Rieu, and his Johann Strauss Orchestra. "All those stories were just right," Drummen says. She has already had ten performances in the meantime and will be there also on Saturday and Sunday evening, when André Rieu will perform his 99th and 100th concert on the square in Maastricht. "It is very special. You play for people who are very enthusiastic. That is very different from performing in a competition or somewhere else.

Ruud Waterval, who plays the big drum with the royal marching band from Eijsden, nods affirmatively. He missed only one of all Rieu's concerts in the last fifteen years, because he was on vacation at the time. "It is a cheerful event, we can radiate pleasure when we make our rounds on the square. And that is very different from when we participate in a procession. We then must be serious. "

The 51-year-old Waterval also finds the contact with the musicians of Rieu’s orchestra very special. "Many of them once started to play with a brass/marching band. We get a lot of appreciation from them. ”

The roughly one hundred musicians from Sainte Cécile are picked up at each concert day at 7:30 PM from the Eijsden Cultural Center with two Rieu buses. They take them to the Kruisheren hotel in Maastricht, where the fans with a VIP package stay. At 8 PM, the Eijsden musicians start their march and walk with the VIP guests in their wake to the Vrijthof. While playing music the band makes two rounds between the audience on the square and then along the people who are having dinner on the terraces and along the platform of the "Theater on the Vrijthof" where the maestro can be seen by his fans. The Eijsden musicians walk exactly 1.7 kilometers every evening, while they play a various repertoire of marching music. "It is hard work," says Waterval. "When I'm done, I'm soaked in sweat. But it is worth it. You get so much positive energy from all those happy people ... They sometimes follow us and want to take a picture with us. "

"The Rieu concerts are very important for Sainte Cécile", says board member Huub Rompelberg. "It is an excellent advertisement for our association and it also provides us with new contacts and performances," says Rompelberg. The clubhouse also benefits, although Rompelberg does not want to reveal how much the band receives for the performances at the Vrijthof square.

André Rieu has been an honorary board member of the Eijsden brass/marching band since 2005. The same year he also gave his first open-air concert in his hometown and Sainte Cécile was the first to perform. "Then we sat together, went through the program and rehearsed under his watchful eye. In the following years that was no longer necessary.

Thank You to Ineke for the Translation

Jun 21, 2019

Economic Impact of The Rieu Concerts Have Increased Enormously

Economic Impact of The Rieu Concerts Have Increased Enormously

Hotel keeper: Toine Scheerens: The impact of the Vrijthof Concerts by André Rieu is now particularly large for the economy in Maastricht and the entire region. Take for instance the hotels, they really benefit from them, according to Toine Scheerens, manager of the NH-Hotel and President of the cooperating hotels in Maastricht. (Sahot) 

By Jo Cortenraed: Chief editor Chapeau Magazine and Manon Broers 

That afternoon André and his wife Marjorie are sitting comfortably on the couch, accompanied by two poodles who are very peacefully snoozing and not paying any attention to either the guest or the conversation. The homely tranquility is in great contrast which most fans worldwide have of him: always energetic on and around the stage, and always busy entertaining his public of millions with his music. "It all started with the "Hieringe Biete" (Herring bites) concerts", he said soberly. "That was in the eighties. Back then I already dreamed of someday playing square in the middle of the Vrijthof. That would really be something we told each other. And yes, back then we had no idea that it would ever happen and that it became so big." 

Convincing the hotel and catering industry (Horeca) 

The first edition of everything is always the most difficult, because everything is new. André and Marjorie discovered that also in their "own" Maastricht. "Primarily the horeca industry on the Vrijthof was not that much in favor. The entrepreneurs were afraid that they would miss out on income, especially since we demanded that no drinks would be served during the concerts. That would interfere too much with the music. It took a lot of persuading. In addition we made a very interesting agreement: that they can include the entrance fee in their packages and we would not collect anything from that. Our revenue comes only from the tickets we sell for the square only, and not the tickets for the terraces. After the first weekend, now fifteen years ago, our house was filled with flowers, all sent by the same horeca entrepreneurs. Apparently the events turned out to be in their favor, and since then we have complete cooperation. Even from the city council. That started from the very first year, for which then Mayor Gerd Leers was responsible. In the past the cooperation did not always go smooth. Once back in 1994, we and the orchestra were just having a drink on the square "de Thermen" to celebrate our first CD "Strauss and Company." We started playing spontaneously and the people found it to be awesome. But very quickly we had to stop, because of a couple of municipal inspectors. We had no authorization. We were creating a nuisance to the residents, while it was still in the middle of the afternoon. I understand that you have to take everything into account as much as possible, but I think that when you consciously are going to live in the inner city, you need to be flexible too. To enjoy full peace and quiet you need to live outside the city."

"My public is always so emotional
because I am that too" 

Taking Risks 

The current Vrijthof concerts are thus based on the "Hieringe Biete" concerts which with André and his former Salon Orchestra started some thirty odd years ago, in conjunction with Carnival (Mardi Gras). "I already knew back then that this would become our livelihood, but I absolutely had no idea how big it would become. Of course, the success is now overwhelming, and fans from over eighty countries come to Maastricht. But we took a lot of risks, in fact for all those years. What did you think, with one hundred twenty people in permanent employment, and about as many additional part timers. Those are mega investments. But we succeeded, our company is now in calmer waters, and everything is well under control, But that was not always so," he says laughingly and putting it into perspective. "Yes, André is always very giving without realizing the consequences" says wife Marjorie soberly, with whom he has always formed a team behind the scenes, even up until today. He is just what he is. That is his strength. He wants to succeed every evening. He is not acting, that is how he is." André adds to that: "I would not be able to do it otherwise. The people feel that too, whether it is real or not. That is why my public is always so emotional, because I am that too." 


Looking back André spontaneously recalls some of the highlights of the past fifteen years on the Vrijthof. "The arrival of actor Anthony Hopkins, whose composition we played, the performance of Benny Neyman, Rouwwn Hèze, Vikey Leandros, the Harlem Gospel Choir, Jermaine Jackson, the choir from South Africa, the Maastrichter Star, the four hundred brass players which we acquired during the World Music Competition, Triny Lopez. Lou Vega, and yeas I can still go on. And why the marching band from Eijsden prior to the concerts? The musicians of the "Sainte Cécila" provide an excellent atmosphere on the terraces every evening prior to our concerts. Just prior for us going onstage, they serenade us as we stand on the steps of the theater, which every time is a beautiful moment. You can also think about other warm-up programs, but I am a loyal person. And when it works why change it. It works and provides the proper sphere." The numbers speak for themselves. This year the 100th concert on the Vrijthof and a 1,000.000th visitor. All together 140,000 people who especially come to the Vrijthof, in total twelve evenings. "Yes, who would have thought that fifteen years ago. In addition there are the millions of viewers who watch the concert in the cinemas. That does pretty well too. It not only benefits us, but also the entire city and the region. Yearly we sell 700,000 tickets worldwide for our concerts. And everywhere we go, I speak about my beautiful birth city Maastricht. I like doing that. And it is wonderful to play here. Some hotel owners told me once that I solely am responsible for most of the marketing for Maastricht. And I don't charge them a dime for that." 


The preparations of André on the Vrijthof are no different than when for example he performs in Brazil or Australia. "I concentrate on the evening. It just so happens that my home is my hotel room, in a matter of speaking. For instance, I will not do any chores. I work out and rest. I make sure that I am on the Vrijthof around 5PM, and to see that everything is OK. We eat there and afterwards I rest, just like when I am on tour. Nothing is done automatically, everything has to be done from the very beginning. And afterwards comes the relaxation. Always a wonderful feeling. I hope I'll be able to that for many more years to come. For me and as well for all the people who come here to enjoy themselves.

The first concert series of André Rieu on the Vrijthof were not a big deal for the hotel keepers in the city. "We had troubles getting the rooms filled", said Toine Scheerens. There were only 3 concerts in the beginning and not 12 like now. So, just only one weekend and besides I think that mostly fans from this area attended. It was something new. The international public came later. The start of a separate industry by André Rieu Travel Agency (started by son Pierre Rieu) was an important turning point for Scheerens. "That turned out very well. Especially the package arrangements which they offer to their guests, work well. For us it is a very good outfit to work with. All appointments are properly met." 

For a long time the art fair TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair) was for the hotel keepers of Maastricht and vicinity the absolute highlight of the year. That has changed. "TEFAF is still very important to us, that is certainly true. But with 140.000 visitors from many different countries, Rieu's concerts as an event have become twice as big as TEFAF. During those weekends the hotels are totally occupied as far away as Eindhoven, Hasselt, Liège and Aachen. The entire region benefits from it. The room rates we feel are excellent. There are hotels which adjust their interior as much as possible to Rieu with decor elements to get their guests into the right atmosphere." The concerts are also good for employment. "We hire extra people from all over the country, all the way up to Amsterdam. Otherwise we cannot manage the event. All vacations/holidays are withdrawn during that time. Because guests arrive early and like to have lunch and dinner. Just for an N-H Hotel alone we already have 8 buses running, especially for the Rieu-fans." 

Not only do the hotels benefit from this mega-event. "What do you think about the laundry services, the bus companies, the taxi cabs, the shops in the inner city and of course the restaurants and cafés with their outside terraces. The entire city earns a lot of money and may be thankful to André Rieu." Scheerens himself is mostly entertained by the international guests. "They come from everywhere. Brazil, USA, South-Africa, you just name it. That says something about André Rieu's fame, his status as a world star. The people are very diverse. From very common to very sophisticated, a mix of everything. And they all have a lot of fun. 


Fan for life from Kent, UK. No less than 80 springs young, but that does not stop Gillian Bisseru from travelling all alone from England to the Vrijthof every year. Not one Rieu concert day is skipped by her, and this year she attends all 12 concerts. "It is so wonderful to see how Rieu and his orchestra know how to touch anyone to release emotions." In order to make the most of these days, Gillian treats herself to the VIP package deal from the Kruisheren Hotel. "The location of this hotel is ideal and the architecture is very special". The VIP arrangement includes a lunch, a guided tour through Rieu's castle, studio or backstage, depending on the day. "It is a unique way to get a look into Rieu's life. Especially when his son Pierre Rieu is the tour guide!" 


Fans for life from Munich, Germany. "Every time we look forward to the Rieu concerts on the Vrijthof. In our eyes he knows like no other how to select music and so move his audience. Next to the beautiful dresses, the decor is also very special, surrounded by all those terraces and churches…. It's a piece of Heaven on Earth." Andreas and Diana von Dall' Armi have been coming for years especially from Munich to attend the Rieu Vrijthof concerts. Maastricht has become a place for the family where they both can enjoy their two passions during the summer, namely André Rieu and the equestrian sport. During the same time, a well-known equestrian event, the CHIO, takes place in Aachen. After the overwhelming Rieu concerts, it is always a big party and the German couple likes to stay an extra night to relax. "We prefer to enjoy a drink on the Onze Lieve Vrouwen Plein (Our Dear Lady Square) after the concert has finished, because that is the most romantic place to enjoy life". 


Fans for life from Den Haag, the Netherlands. Ruud and Ineke Elshout-Cornelissen are real fans from the first hour. In the 90's they already attended concerts by André Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra. "At present we travel each year to Maastricht and each year we stay longer! We want to be there the entire time, which last year resulted in all 13 concerts!" They stay at the DuCasque Hotel where they recover from Rieu's concerts, the fan dinners and picnics, which they are organizing themselves for the fans. "It has almost become a fulltime job that organizing. Where Rieu goes, we go too. In the meantime this has become our favorite holiday formula: combining a concert and meeting fans, with sightseeing a city.

Thank You to John and Ineke for Translating this long article! (and to "me' for posting it!) :D

Jun 16, 2019

Passion Plays in Tegelen To Receive Scaffolding From André Rieu

Passion Plays in Tegelen (Limburg) 
To Receive Scaffolding From André Rieu

June 17, 2019 - The Limburger by Marco van Kampen: Paris did not need André Rieu's assistance, but Tegelen (city in northern Limburg) will make use of his assistance.

After the devastating fire in the Notre Dame, Rieu offered seven hundred tons of steel for the reconstruction of the Parisian cathedral. That turned out not to be necessary. Some of the materials now go to the Passion Plays in Tegelen, according to Jos Teeuwen, chairman of the Passion Plays.

The organization will make good use of the scaffolding material. "It is safe and good quality stuff with a variety of heights. That is exactly what we need. According to board member Math Schmeitz we have good contacts with Rieu, and he would like to cooperate. This way the scaffolding will get a religious destination."

Note ... Tegelen conducts the Passion Plays every five years. Whereas Oberammergau, Germany performs them every 10 years.

Thank You To John For The Article and Translation

Jun 15, 2019

Rieu Deeply Touched by The Theft of Instruments

Rieu deeply touched by the theft of instruments from a brass band: I'm going to buy everything new

When world star, violinist and orchestra leader André Rieu heard  yesterday that a brass band for intellectually limited musicians had been robbed of all their instruments worth at least 20,000 Euros, it became too much for him.  He did not hesitate for a moment and decided to provide the robbed brass band with brand new instruments.

The musicians from Haarlem are "really overwhelmed," is what they wrote on Face book. The nightmare for the Haarlem brass band "Happy with Music" took place last night, when thieves left with their trailer containing all their musical instruments. The trailer was parked along the Spaarne river. "Oh ..... we are so angry!!  And so sad!", the corps desperately wrote on Face book.

The news hit hard in Haarlem, where the band is a welcome guest. The band's "Happy with Music" foundation consists of around 25 people with intellectual disabilities who make music together every week on percussion and wind instruments. The group's instruments were acquired over a period of  seventeen years thanks to, among other things, sponsoring campaigns.

The news about the theft was massively shared after the initial announcement. Immediately a crowd funding campaign was set up which raised enough money to be able to purchase new instruments. Other fanfare bands in the Netherlands also came to the rescue. "Would you like to borrow our instruments for a while?" was the response on social media from all over the world.

The cowardly theft also reached world star and orchestra leader André Rieu. The "King of the Waltz" was so touched by the news that he immediately decided to take action. He immediately contacted the brass band and made a proposal which was received with great enthusiasm."  This is outrageous, which is why he immediately arranged for new instruments," Rieu's spokesperson confirms today.

"Heart Broken"

He tells De Telegraaf that "his heart broke" when he read that the group of musicians had been robbed of their instruments. "That's why I'm going to help them, so that later they can be one hundred percent "Happy with Music" again. I want to give them back the joy of music taken from them," says Rieu. The Limburg violinist is responsible for all costs for the new instruments.

Juria van der Lubbe, chairman of the brass band, reacted very emotionally. "What a lovely man, that he will do this for our corps. I'm completely confused. We first have to process this. ” In the meantime they have already made contact with Rieu's management.

The members of the brass band are, just like Juria completely overwhelmed by this sweet gesture. In addition, they have decided not to let this get to them.  Since they want to play, but have to wait a while for the new instruments, they are now trying to borrow enough instruments to form a full-blown band.

"Full Regalia"

This afternoon, "Happy with Music" will hopefully be in full swing at a jubilee premiere in Deventer. "We will set off this afternoon with a wonderful, proud feeling," they write. " Thanks to the Damiate Band Haarlem and an association from Deventer, we can now perform!"

In the meantime André Rieu (69), is now busy preparing for his twelve jubilee concerts at the Vrijthof in Maastricht. Earlier this year, André donated no less than 700 tons of steel for the reconstruction of the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.
Thanks to John for the Translation

André Rieu Does Not Have To Buy New Instruments 
For Robbed Musicians With Disabilities

June 16th - André Rieu does not have to open up his wallet to help out the robbed brass band from Haarlem. All stolen instruments with an estimated value of at least 20,000 Euros have been recovered. Rieu had offered to purchase new instruments for the band.

According to the police, the instruments were recovered yesterday (Friday) afternoon, and are virtually undamaged, and have since been returned to the victim brass band. The trailer in which those instruments were located has not yet been found. People with an intellectual disability play in this band.

Jun 7, 2019

André Rieu Wants To Bring Classical Music Back To The People

André Rieu wants to bring classical music back to the people – 
and to perform on the moon. Anita Singh met him in his castle
The Telegraph - June 7, 2019: If you have missed out on tickets this summer to see André Rieu, the best-selling classical musician on the planet, there’s no need to worry. He’ll be back next year. And the year after that. In fact, he might be here for all eternity.
Rieu, you see, is 69 but hopes to live to 1,000. “Yes! I would love to do it. I think it’s possible,” he says. He follows the work of Prof Aubrey de Grey, a British scientist who believes that the secret to living for ever is within our grasp. “I know what he’s working on and from the moment that he says, ‘OK, we are ready to trial,’ I’m there. I’m first. Hellooo!”
He announces this shortly after I arrive at his mini-castle in Maastricht – said to have belonged to Charles de Batz-Castelmore, the 17th century musketeer on whom Alexandre Dumas loosely based the character of d’Artagnan and who perhaps provided the inspiration for Rieu’s magnificent hair. He is an expansive host, welcoming me into the kitchen with a megawatt smile and a brick-sized slice of gooseberry meringue pie.
“This is where d’Artagnan had the last breakfast of his life before fighting for his king,” he explains. Does he feel a psychic connection to the musketeer? “I don’t believe in early lives and all that, but I think I could live like an earl, ha-ha-ha!”
In fact, his title is King of the Waltz. Maastricht is the location of the open-air concerts he has staged in the city square for the past 15 years. The rest of the time he tours the globe playing arenas, and he has sold 40 million CDs and DVDs. His concerts are a phenomenon. Audiences laugh and cry and dance in the aisles. With his Johann Strauss Orchestra, the biggest privately owned orchestra in the world, he conducts and plays the violin in a show that is pure entertainment. The music is a draw but the key is Rieu himself, radiating charm and bonhomie in his white tie and tails, setting female hearts aflutter.
There are some who think this party atmosphere and Rieu’s popular repertoire – The Blue Danube, Lara’s Theme from Dr Zhivago, a version of the Macarena in which a member of the orchestra whips off her ball gown and tap dances on a piano – are an affront to classical music. He thinks such opinions are sad. “I am a classical musician. I say that with all my honesty. But that doesn’t mean that I’m a dull person. Classical music is music that touches your heart. Bohemian Rhapsody is classical music for me.”
He has no truck with stuffy concerts where audience participation is frowned upon.
“When Verdi composed his Nabucco, the whole audience in Italy was singing. And then, I’m not a history man, but something happened; classical music went there and popular music went there” – he points in opposite directions – “and I don’t know why.” And that’s where he comes in. “I’m not travelling the world like a priest and bringing classical music back to the people… but in fact that’s what I’m doing.” British reserve disappears at his concerts, he says: “I make them feel at ease.”
People come to see him from all over the world. “They say, ‘We are from the Fiji islands and our dream was to come to your concert.’ It makes me proud.”
Do people propose at his concerts? He nods. “It’s really true. And also people in wheelchairs who stand up.” Really? “Yeah, you are sitting next to God, you know?” This is said with a knowing wink because Rieu is self-deprecating, despite superstardom and the fact that his website sells a jigsaw with a picture of his face on it.
You are a very handsome man, I tell him, because a few hours in the company of André Rieu makes one say things like this. “Thank you very much,” he beams. How does he enjoy his heart-throb status? “It’s good!” He has plenty of male fans, he notes, then adds with a twinkle in his eye: “But of course I look to the women. When I am on stage with my violin playing Elvis Presley, then I look them in the eyes, because that’s nice.”
He receives his fair share of marriage proposals but they are not serious, he says, because they know about Marjorie. She is his childhood sweetheart, the love of his life and wife of 43 years. What is the secret of their happy union? “First, we never argue. You can say, ‘Ugh, dull,’ but count your blessings. And have respect for each other and let each other have his and her life.” Marjorie does not tour with him but scripts the shows and is a partner in the business.
The son of a conductor, Rieu began violin lessons aged five and formed his first orchestra in his 20s, playing weddings and retirement homes. His professional breakthrough came when a Belgian radio DJ remixed one of his tracks and it was an unexpected hit. Then he was invited to perform Shostakovich’s Waltz No 2 at the 1995 Champions League final, a piece of music that featured in an insurance advert at the time. Watch that performance on YouTube; he has the crowd in the palm of his hand.
Next month, he will perform his 100th Maastricht concert, welcoming his millionth visitor, which is all good news for his bank balance, because he also owns the production company that beams the concerts into cinemas, and the travel agency that organises the package deals. “In the beginning you don’t realise you can do that yourself, so the money goes to others. And then you think, let’s do that differently.”
He cheerfully admits to financial mistakes, notably the time he built a replica of Vienna’s Schönbrunn castle, complete with ice rink and a carriage covered in actual gold, as a stage set to cart around Australia. It left him €34  million (£30 million) in debt. His error was to equate sales of his CDs and DVDs there with the number of people willing to see his shows. “I didn’t know that all the people buying them were the same people. I did a signing session and I thought, ‘Oh my God, that is the one lady who bought all the DVDs!’”
But he made the money back and now appears comfortably off. The castle, bought as a wreck 20 years ago, is his pride and joy and main source of expenditure. Rieu does not have diva tastes. His next holiday will be to England because he and Marjorie want to visit the locations in Midsomer Murders. His two luxuries when touring are a personal trainer, who puts him through thrice-weekly weight training sessions, and a red sofa – he has four of the latter, shipped ahead to different venues – on which he has a 90-minute power nap before concerts.
He would be a dream booking for Strictly Come Dancing. "They asked me, of course I said no because I had to be there for two months and I cannot leave my orchestra."He has never been invited to play at the Proms, but wouldn't accept anyway, the last night being too close to his shows.
Somehow we segue to his ambition to perform in space. ("Richard Branson promised me to build a hotel on the moon. Tell him to hurry".) And Elon Musk's theory that we are all living in a computer simulation. Rieu likes that idea. "I think there are endless universes the same as this. There are another two of us and another. Yes!" An infinite number of Andre Rieu's? What a thought.
 The Maastricht concert is in cinemas on July 27-28. Details:
He also tours the UK in April/May 2020

Apr 25, 2019

Praise To The South by André Rieu

Praise To The South by André Rieu
(Of The Netherlands and in particular the Province of Limburg)

"Where in the bronze/green oak woods" ... This is how the Limburg National Anthem starts and what a beautiful description of our southernmost province. I have been asked to write a preface about the south and I would like to do that. I have been living in Limburg all my life, and I would not want to live anywhere else!

By André Rieu - My ancestors came from the French region of Auvergne, but my parents actually came from Haarlem. In the Fall of 1949 my father secured a job as conductor of the then Maastricht Symphony Orchestra, and because of that my parents decided to move to Limburg. Therefore, I am a truly born and raised Maastricht citizen! Here people seem to really enjoy life to the fullest and they do so during all the seasons. This is particularly noticeable during the summer months, when the cafés and restaurants stay open late and the terraces are overcrowded - not only with Dutch people, but also with tourists "from abroad". It is not for nothing that I have chosen my hometown as the "final performance" of our annual concert series all over the world. In July we will be home in Maastricht and we can show our fans where we come from. Believe it or not, we counted no less than 90 (!) Nationalities on the Vrijthof during our concerts series last Summer.

Limburg citizens are truly Burgundian type people: that, in the first place has to do with a certain culinary lifestyle. People love great food and drink, and after a great dinner enjoy a leisurely  visit with friend and family... That also applies to me. I love to cook for my wife, children and five grandchildren! Second, there is, I think, no province as musical as Limburg. Every city or village has its own brass band or marching band where music is played enthusiastically every week. In addition, there is also a lot of music in the churches during mass. I sang in a church choir my entire youth, and I am convinced that has been very important for my musical development. Many of my orchestra members - particularly the brass section - have played in an all brass or marching band during their youth, and some still do it in their spare time. Sometimes I hear such an ensemble when I walk in the surroundings of my house. Then I feel so very warm inside and I realize "Just how beautiful our Limburg is ...!" (Wie sjoen os Limburg is)

From July 4 through July 21 you can once again enjoy the music of André Rieu and his orchestra during the Maastricht Open Air concerts. A few days later - on July 27 and 28 , the recording of these concerts can be viewed in cinemas throughout the Netherlands. And if you want to sit quietly at home, then Rieu’s new DVD "Love in Maastricht" is now available in stores! For more information, go to:

Thanks to Ineke for the article and John's Translation

Apr 17, 2019

André Rieu Offers To Help After Fire in The Notre-Dame

Deeply Shocked André Rieu Offers To Help After Fire in The Notre-Dame

"de Limburger Regio," April 16, 2019 - Monday night's great fire in the Notre-Dame is affecting the world. This is also the case with André Rieu, who is offering his help.

The dramatic images of the fire have deeply shocked Rieu. The Maastricht resident announced on Twitter to offer 700 tons of steel for the scaffolding during the restoration of the world-famous Paris cathedral. "The steel was used for the decor of the Schönbrunn Castle in Vienna," Rieu writes in a photograph showing the steel scaffolding.

In recent years, the violinist made a world tour with his full-size replica of the Viennese castle. It is one of the largest sets ever made for a traveling show: 125 meters (410.10 feet)wide, 30 meters (98.42 feet)deep and 35 meters(114.83 feet)high.

The Notre Dame, which is one of the greatest icons in Western Europe's history, caught fire on Monday evening while people from close and far were being consumed by sorrow. The damage to the Notre Dame is great.

Thanks to  Ineke for the article and John's translation






Pierre and André September 30, 2016 Maastricht












Photo Taken at Mexico City Concert ~ September 2013




"Hello to all my fans on The Harmony Parlor!"

Soundcheck in Maastricht 2013 (RTL Photo)

Maastricht 2012 ~ "André on The Theater Steps" by Bee

Maastricht 2012 ~ "André and Pierre on The Theater Steps" by Bee