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Feb 9, 2017

Rieu's Stage Being Used By Another Orchestra in Maastricht

André Rieu's Stage 
Being Used By Another Orchestra In Maastricht

The Limburger: The South Netherlands'  Philharmonic will perform live music from the film West Side Story on the Vrijthof on July 10, 2017. For this event André Rieu's stage will be used.

The concert will be held in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of "the Theater on the Vrijthof", so writes De Limburger. On that day there will be no concert by the violin virtuoso.

Rieu and his Johann Strauss Orchestra will perform from 6 to 9 July, 13 to 16 July and 22 July on the Vrijthof.

Big screen

The classical film, which acclaimed several Oscars, will be projected on the big screen behind the orchestra, while live music by Leonard Bernstein is being played . One hundred musicians are participating.

Nicely relaxing

"Since in the past André himself has played in the Philharmonic, he could not refuse this request. We support it wholeheartedly. For us it is also nice that we for once can look at our stage, deliciously leaning back ," said manager Pierre Rieu in the newspaper.

Thank you to John for the Translation

Jan 8, 2017

Rieu a Well Oiled Machine in Amsterdam

A Well "Oiled" Orchestra in The Ziggo Dome

January 9, 2017, The Limburger by Jan Cuijpers It is a rock hard rule: The show must go on.Last Saturday André Rieu and his orchestra performed again for the first time since the passing of trombone player Ruud Merx. The Ziggo Dome received their monies worth.

Amsterdam
Just a remark by André Rieu half way through his performance in a fully packed Ziggo Dome. "During our concerts many friendships are established between people who previously never would have known each other. I am proud of that." That comment confirms the expression "music unites." Those connections also exists within the Johann Strauss orchestra, where several relations originated. That is where Ruud Merx, who passed away on 22 December, learned to know his wife, violinist Alina-Lin Jong. And between various band members there are friendships which far transcend the ordinary good fellowship. The passing of the much beloved Merx also caused emotional reactions within the group.

Happiness André Rieu immediately canceled the remaining five concerts of his England tour after the heart attack of his trombone player. The Maastricht citizen's motto is, that he and his orchestra want to bring happiness to the people, and that is why under those circumstances, he and his musicians were not able to perform, so said the conductor.

Between Christmas and New years, André could not be turned away from the TV. By channel surfing you could always catch him on a Dutch, German regional TV station. Unwittingly the broadcasts ensured that Ruud Merx was still alive. He not only filled an important role as a musician, but if we go to face book and the speakers at the impressive memorial service at the Rodahal, he was also the man of jokes and witty remarks and the instigator in the orchestra.

He was also prominently featured in several broadcasts, balancing his trombone on his chin. But that was missing for the first time in Rieu's New Year's concert in the Ziggo Dome on January 7th. Would the front man be able to be the humorous entertainer again and how will the orchestra react to the loss of the trombonist - who until that fateful December 22nd had been a vital link for over two decades. Very important, since after Amsterdam there will be a volley of 25 concerts, primarily in Germany.

Top form The answer to the first question: André is in to form. He is living proof that a (world)star must not only be a good musician, but also a super performer. It is not for nothing that he is in the top 100 of the successful touring artists worldwide. Just the ticket sales for his concerts alone grossed a whopping 32.1 million in 2016. His whole appearance radiates that he is the leader of the company and with his tongue-in-cheek announcements he enchants his audience. If for instance someone calls out that he should speak English: "Are there many English here?" When there is a massive reaction: "I thought you all left Europe!" And he easily continues the show bilingual. A concert that attracts an international public. The British have already been mentioned, but also Belgian, Spanish, Mexican and even Columbian people occupy the seats in the Ziggo Dome.

Yesterday's rehearsal was crucial for today's success. There, that was the place for sorrow and tears.

Machine
There were only smiling faces in the orchestra. The venue looked and sounded like a well oiled machine. There is only one word for that: "PROFESSIONALISM." "Today everyone was in good form," said manager Pierre Rieu after the performance. "The rehearsal we had yesterday was crucial for today's success. There, that was the place for sorrow and tears. Today we purposely did not say anything about Ruud. That would have been too difficult and it is also our sorrow. We do not want to burden the public with that, even though they understand 100%. Fortunately we persevered."

A hard, but none the less true conclusion after seeing a world class concert: every musician is replaceable, but not the Maestro
Thank You to John for this Translation  

André Rieu New Year Concert at Ziggo Dome

Ziggo Dome To Become a Viennese Ballroom

The Gelderlander - Jan. 7, 2017: It will become an annual spectacle during a time when traditions are increasingly under pressure. Tonight André Rieu introduces a keeper at the Ziggo Dome: A New Year's Concert. Did he as a child also watch the famous New Year's Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic? Which was followed by the ski jumping in Garmisch Partenkirchen?

Andre Rieu (67) starts to laugh. "During my childhood there was no television at all - that's how old I am But when I married Marjorie and we had children, we watched the New Year's concert every year."


"I was a great admirer of conductor Willy Boskowsky, who just like me stood as a violinist in front of the orchestra. In the beginning years with the Johann Strauss Orchestra, we mainly played Viennese music. Primarily Johann Strauss, but also Franz Lehar, Emmerich Kalman operetta music and also other well-known Viennese songs like Wien, Wien nur du allein. These New Year's Concerts were in a sense a source of inspiration."

The Ziggo Dome is tonight the scene of the first Dutch New Year's concert by André Rieu. The beginning of a tradition, because the Limburg stand-alone violinist and his Johann Strauss Orchestra will return annually to the Amsterdam music hall.


People need to feel that this year could not be better

Pop Songs
So now our country has its own opening concert of the New Year, in which classical and popular music intertwine. "Because in the meantime our repertoire has become much broader and we actually play almost 'everything'. Waltzes, operettas, musicals, movie soundtracks and even the occasional pop song."

The first official New Year's concert works seamlessly with another, especially for André Rieu's memorable event: An der schönen blauen Donau, the mother of all waltzes, which 150 years ago, was first performed.

"Moreover not immediately and exactly a resounding success" he says. "The real triumph of the Danube around the entire world only began after Johann Strauss had conducted his own composition in 1867 at the World Exhibition in Paris."

The Vienna Philharmonic finishes its New Year's concert in the big hall of the Viennese Musikverein invariably with the famous and equally beloved piece, the Radetzky March by Strauss Sr.

In Austria "An der schönen blauen Donau" is cherished as a national anthem which recalls the glory days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the monarchy we especially know in these parts of the lavish splendor in the Sissy movies.

To listen to the iconic Viennese Waltz, André Rieu invited 150(!) Couples to come waltzing into the Ziggo Dome. "It will be a magnificent formation dance", he predicts. "With 150 men in tuxedo's and 150 ladies in beautiful white ball gowns especially designed for them. First they waltz to the famous music from the Dr. Zhivago film,Lara's Song, but later they will actually dance to "der schönen blaue Danube."
Andre Rieu has "prepared" a New Year program with an undeniably Viennese touch.


I want the visitors to leave with a smile on their faces

Mexico
"Nice music, waltzes, beautiful arias and a festive atmosphere. People need to go home with the feeling that nothing can go wrong this year. That's what I want to achieve with my concerts: that the visitors leave with a smile on their faces."

Tomorrow is Belgium's turn. André Rieu will then, including the 150 couples, perform in Brussels. Afterwards there will be a series of concerts in Germany and France and then on the program it will be Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia and Scandinavia. "Of course in July we will play again on the Vrijthof." Yes, the 67-year-old also has a vacation planned, but not one too long huh ... "Because after the summer we go to Chile and Mexico."
Thank You to John for the Translation

Dec 28, 2016

Everything But a Festive Week

André Rieu and Jo Cortenraedt

Everything But a Festive Week

The weekly Saturday blog by Jo Cortenraedt

December 24, 2016 From the Chapeau Magazine: The week after Christmas is for me - and I think for many - one week of two feelings. On the one hand you look forward to a beautiful time of togetherness and also taking it a bit easier. But on the other hand, there is still so much that needs to be done that week. And of course you also do not want to arrive exhausted at the end.

So that means balancing on a shaky rope. Then you try, in the evening hours, to meet all deadlines, but you cannot shield yourself from  the daily news, at least I cannot. So for a few evenings I sat with my laptop on my lap working  while we followed the developments in Berlin.

Unfortunately, that was a confirmation of what we have feared for some time. There are so many people around in Europe, mostly from Islamic countries, who not only want nothing to do with our culture, but are also willing to attack us. At least hundreds, maybe thousands.

On the one hand, I do not follow the attitude of the right-wing radicals who want to close all the borders and far exceed our own standards. And I also do not follow the many naive representatives of political correctness, who still think that they are just "a couple of idiots." Action is warranted, and that now also includes Angela Merkel.  She cannot do anything else any different. She has also awoken. We have a structural problem.

Much closer to home, a totally different drama took place. For many years I fairly regularly go on tours with André Rieu and his orchestra to make reports. The first TV report I made in this context, was in Germany in 1997. It was the first year of the regional television in Limburg. Then TV8.

In the early days of the Limburg television the performances by André Rieu were already quite large, but compared with today they were still quite modest. By regularly traveling  along you learn to know besides  the maestro - whom I had learned to know previously and privately via a different route - also the orchestra  members. At the airport, on the bus, backstage, at the bar. One of those with whom I made contact with the fastest was Ruud Merx, the trombonist. And also with his equally spontaneous wife Alina-Lin. At one time it was about volatile issues, other times more serious things. In any case, Ruud was one of the most spontaneous, one of the most pure orchestra members.

Was, I must say. For he is no longer here. During the England tour he was  suddenly stricken in the middle of the night and suffered a cardiac arrest. The assassin who always strikes unannounced . This has happened to several people in my circle and is often fatal.

Ruud continue to breathe for a few more days, but never recovered. Someone with so much enjoyment of life, a sense of responsibility to his family, to his profession and his surroundings.

That the other concerts in England were canceled, proves how big a shock it was within the entire orchestra, something which I have so often experienced as being an itinerant family. André Rieu has always invested in a good atmosphere within the orchestra, everyone is like a VIP. Of course there is one boss, but he sits with them at the table after the concert.

I remember that I asked - I believe it was in Mexico - Ruud and even his wife asked how they foresaw the future, when their conductor who had been struggling with his health had not been available for some time. Well, they of course were worried. And advised  André to take good care of himself and divide his strengths.

Well, you then do not suddenly expect something like this to happen to such a relatively young guy like Ruud.

The dark days before Christmas became more than a reality for André Rieu and his entire orchestra. The emotional impact has a tremendous effect on their mutual bond.

If I go along the next time, no matter where in the world, it will be different. Because Ruud was such a colorful and cheerful individual who just belonged.

Of course, life goes on, the orchestra does too, there's no other choice. But in the coming days many tears will flow because of the loss of such a fine individual. For his family it will be a very difficult time. But as consolation,  they are part of a very close group which they have around them to assist them in the fight to get through this ... Jo Cortenraedt

Thank you to Ineke for the Magazine Article and John for Translating it.

Dec 22, 2016

Trombonist Ruud Merx, 47, passed away today.

In a Maastricht hospital, trombonist Ruud Merx, 47, passed away today.

He was a musician with André Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra. Ruud suffered a heart attack last Saturday while on tour in England.


He was more than a trombonist
Ruud Merx was not just a trombonist. He was also known in the Limburg music world as an arranger and composer. As a young musician he started his musical career in Bocholtz with the Philharmonie and continued his musical studies at the Maastricht Conservatory specializing in the trombone. He has been  a trombonist with the Johann Strauss Orchestra since 1994. 


Merx also wrote carnival songs, including songs for several artists from Landgraaf and Kerkrade. As a board member of the Limburg Association for Muziekgezelschappen (Music organizations) he was a strong supporter for the LBM Youth Orchestra and the integration of musical education in primary schools.

Canceled Concerts
André Rieu had canceled the remaining five concerts, which he would have performed in Britain. If more performances are to be canceled is not clear.

Thank you to John who with a heavy heart translated this from DeLimburger.

Dec 18, 2016

André Rieu Cancels British Tour

André Rieu Cancels British Tour After Tragedy Strikes His Orchestra

1Limburg: André Rieu has decided to cancel the remaining five concerts he would be performing in the future in Great Britain. Everyone is too upset to continue playing after an orchestra member suffered a heart attack.

Uncertain
According to manager Pierre Rieu, the man's condition is still uncertain. "We are all together waiting for him to wake up." The orchestra member suffered cardiac arrest on Saturday morning at 5:00 am. His wife - also a member of Rieu's orchestra - immediately called for help from their travel-along doctor and security. The musician was then  transferred to the hospital. Based on that situation, Rieu  decided to cancel the show for Saturday evening.

Ziggo Dome
Rieu would be performing on Monday and Tuesday in London, Wednesday in Birmingham, Manchester on Thursday and Friday in Glasgow. But now the next scheduled performance is the New Year's concert in Amsterdam's Ziggo Dome on 7 January.
Thank You to John for the Translation

Dec 17, 2016

André Rieu Concert Canceled

Drama Strikes Orchestra, André Rieu Concert Canceled

De Limburger, 17 Dec 2016: The André Rieu concert which was scheduled  in the English Nottingham for Saturday evening had to be  canceled.
Namely a member of his Johann Strauss Orchestra suffered a heart attack. The man who for more than twenty years played in the orchestra, is now in critical condition in a British hospital.

A traveling family
André's son Pierre Rieu confirmed the incident, stating that the orchestra cannot muster the strength  to go on stage this Saturday . "We are not going to play nice, nice music. We are a traveling family and that has many advantages, but now, we are all devastated." André addressed the group, stating  that in this situation he did not want to go on stage.

In his sleep
The orchestra member was struck by  cardiac arrest Saturday morning in his sleep at around 5:00 am. His wife, also a member of the orchestra, immediately called for help from the  accompanying doctor and security. "We always carry defibrillators with us, and we were able to use them now.  Sometimes the question arises  whether that sort of equipment and a doctor are really needed, but now we are thankful that we were able to act quickly."

London
According to Rieu never before had such a serious incident taken place within the orchestra. The orchestra will be in England  until December 24. Shows for Monday and Tuesday are still scheduled for London. Whether these will be performed, is according Rieu not yet known.

Thank You to John for this and the Translation of it.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all ...

Nov 21, 2016

André Rieu Sets Event Cinema Record

André Rieu Sets Event Cinema Record

Deadline Hollywood November 21, 2016 - André Rieu has done it again. The Dutch violinist’s CinemaLive holiday special, André Rieu: Christmas With André, has topped his own previous box office record, becoming the highest-grossing single-day music concert event of all time at UK and Irish turnstiles. 

Screening at 480 locations on Saturday, the concert grossed £1.162M ($1.45M), beating Rieu’s 2015 Maastricht concert which had sold £1.034M in UK/Ireland tickets. Saturday’s event featured a never-before-seen recorded Christmas concert, a personal live tour of Maastricht and a live Q&A with Rieu, aka “The King of Waltz,” who’s known for his energetic and festive live performances. 

The concert also screened in 223 cinemas across Europe, including in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. On November 27, encore screenings will be held at 290 cinemas across the UK & Ireland, plus 57 more in Europe and at select dates in Australia and New Zealand. Canada celebrates Christmas with André on December 1.

Oct 5, 2016

André Rieu Performing on ABC's DWTS!

From André's Facebook Page Today: USA mark your calendars! 
André Rieu will be performing on ABC's Dancing With The Stars next Monday at 8/7c!

André Rieu, "King of the Waltz” 
To Perform On Dancing With The Stars

ABC's Dancing With The Stars: International phenomenon André Rieu, known to millions around the world as “The King of the Waltz,” is set to perform. Rieu is the first artist to appear on the show along with a full 60-piece orchestra to perform a major opening number with “My Heart Will Go On.”

Sep 29, 2016

Free Rieu Concert Tickets Gone in Less Than Two Minutes

Free Rieu Concert Tickets Gone in Less Than Two Minutes

De Limburger - September 2016: On Tuesday, the 630 available seats for Rieu’s free mini-concert for 30 September on the Onze Lieve Vrouwe Plein (Our Dear Lady’s Square) were gone within two minutes, so says director Sione Götte of the Derlon Hotel which oversaw the ‘pre-sale’.

Over Booked

"Within 7 minutes we had receive 997 requests, so we had to turn our web site off real quick. That also meant that we had to disappoint a lot of people. And to keep everything in order attendees will not be assigned a seat until they have received a confirmation from us.

Australians

The vast majority of the reservations according to Götte went to the residents of Limburg. "It is a real Limburg party. Yet there are also a few people from Belgian Limburg scattered throughout. They come from places like Bree and Bocholt. However, most strikingly is the family Francis from Cranbourne in Australia who managed to get through. All the way from Australia, just for thirty minutes, that is hard to believe."

Re-opened 42 Times

Another notable fan was Melanie Burchartz from Heerlen. "She really wanted two tickets so she reopened our page 41 times. But rest assured, she will only receive 2 tickets and not 82," Götte laughs.

Max

The Rieu concert and his entire orchestra was an initiative of Broadcasting Company Max. This company travels throughout the country with "the Time Max" caravan and broadcasts a week long from the Vrijthof. The broadcasts began on Monday, September 26th every day. The final Friday Max broadcast was moved to the Onze Lieve Vrouweplein (Our Dear Lady’s Square) specifically for the Rieu concert..
The last time the Maastricht violinist performed on the Onze Lieve Vrouweplein was in 1999.

Thanks to John for the Translation

Huge Trees Force Rieu To Creativity

Preparations For The Mini Concert

Huge trees force Rieu to creativity by L1 news - A mini concert by Andre Rieu will be aired live from the OLV (Our Dear Lady’s) square on Friday by broadcast station MAX. Two huge trees at the OLV square are creating a few headaches. Right in the center where the stage needs to be are namely two huge trees.

Cut Them Down

A problem for which Rieu already had a solution. "I told the city to cut them down and make violins out of the wood; they turned white. Of course it was a joke. I am a lover of trees. They will be receiving a place of honor on the stage. The orchestra members will be placed nicely around them.

Procession

And so, nothing more stands in the way of the mini concert – the violin virtuoso will probably perform for a half hour. Rieu might be performing a surprising repertoire. "As a youngster I often walked in a procession. The song that was often sung was "Sterre ter Zee" (Star of the Sea). Wouldn’t that fit just right on this square? The older Maastricht residents know the text by heart, just like I, so who knows whether or not I might play that."

Free

The concert on the square is part of the TV series "Time for MAX" which airs daily from 17:00 – 18:00. On Friday a large part of the program will consists of Rieu’s concert. Admittance to the square for the concert is free. There are a few restrictions: people are not allowed to bring chairs and umbrellas are also not permitted.


Thanks to Ineke for the article and John for Translating it.

Sep 20, 2016

Rieu: Preferably One Sip Of a Good Red Wine


Rieu: Preferably One Sip Of a Good Red Wine

Seventeen years after his last concert on the Onze Lieve Vrouwe plein (Our Dear Lady's Square) André Rieu and his entire Orchestra will return there albeit for only thirty minutes. From Argentina the orchestra leader let it be known that he would love to perform longer. "If possible, but not for three hours."

Maastricht by Ronald Colée - "It is not always the best" André says laughingly on the telephone from Buenos Aires. "It is the same with wine. I am happier with a sip of a good red wine, than an entire bottle of port. " The Maastricht orchestra leader is currently in the Argentine capital where he and his Johann Strauss Orchestra are performing six concerts in the Luna Park Stadium, while referring to the free mini concert which he will perform on the Onze Lieve Vrouwe Plein (Our Dear Lady's Square) in Maastricht on 30 September.

"I was approached by the broadcasting company 'Max' and they asked me if I wanted to close the Maastricht week of the "Time" by the MAX caravan with a concert on the Vrijthof. I did not see that materialize. I just finished seven concerts in a row there for 18,000 people per concert. That square is too large for a program like this. In addition I know what it entails to perform a concert like that. Just think about all the preparations for instance, but also the closing off traffic. That is why I suggested to change to the Our Dear Lady's Square. That is much more intimate and cozier. Initially it was not possible, but in the end it became reality."

Complete Orchestra

Rieu does not expect that the surprise performance will lead to a stampede. "This concert is in no way comparable to a Vrijthof concert, even though we are performing with an entire orchestra. A Vrijthof concert lasts three hours, this one only forty minutes, including an introductory conversation. So that will actually only leave us thirty minutes." If it was up to the orchestra leader, he would like to play a little longer. "But I understood from my studio manager that there would be another broadcast by MAX right after mine. So I think we can only play at the most for an additional fifteen to twenty minutes." For lovers of his Vrijthof series who were hoping this would become a yearly event, the orchestra leader has to disappoint them.

One Time

"I am now 66 and have always said that I will live to be 120, so I will go on with the Vrijthof for a while longer" Rieu laughs. "Or it could be that broadcast station MAX is going to ask us every year. But that is not the case. I see this as a onetime event where I can show the rest of the Netherlands the most beautiful Our Dear Lady's Square in the world. I like to linger there when I am in town. I just hope it will become a cozy half hour. And I am not at all worried about the weather. Because when I and my orchestra perform in Maastricht it is always good weather."

Thanks to John for the article and the Translation of it.

Sep 12, 2016

The Stand-Alone Violinist Divided By Five

The Stand-Alone Violinist Divided By Five

Yesterday at the Cultural exhibition (Parcours)there was a first: the revival of André Rieu's Maastricht Salon Orchestra. A magical crowning at the opening of Maastricht's Cultural season.

Maastricht by Vikkie Bartolomeus: The original scores had to be restored. And the rest from the time of the 'heringenbieteconcerts" (herring bites/eating concert) has been kept as original as possible: the clothing, the setting and the famous Toselli Serenade. André Rieu was the only one absent at the revival of his own 'Maastricht Salon Orchestra'. Well, in the back ground he was more than present, and later on will be directing. "The only thing he does not do, is play along. He says, "I am too old for that and besides I do not have the time." Frank Steijns is one of the five members from André Rieu's Orchestra performing in the new Salon Orchestra. Almost forty years later Rieu gave new life to this chamber music ensemble. Steijns says, "With the big concerts, we see André's enthusiasm, now we need to do that with the five of us. That is a totally different way of making music. The five of us went into quarantine until we had the proper sound."


The idea of a revival of the Salon Orchestra came about after a small delegation of the Rieu Orchestra had performed for some foreign guests. It was an immediate hit. The music is André's, it is under his direction, and we will not imitate him."

Frank Steijns plays the piano and does the presentations, Roland Lafosse plays contra bass, Cord Meyer second violin, Tanja Derwahl cello and Gosia Loboda has the difficult task of trying to approach Rieu's violin playing. "The stand-alone violinist is being divided. Actually André is being split into five pieces." Could the Salon Orchestra be a forerunner of Rieu's eventual retirement? Steijns laughs, "No, André always says that he will live to be 120. And performances with the Rieu Orchestra have priority."

There was a huge crown at the Parcours. At more than thirty places in the city center the public could get a taste of the exhibitions participating in the new cultural season.

"A mix of tradition and newness. That is why I am so thrilled that André Rieu awarded us with this event. I never expected it would be so busy" said Tom Berghmans, member of the city center management.


Thank You to John for the article and translation of it.

Sep 1, 2016

He The King of Waltz ~ She The Crown Princess

Floating Over The Entire Vrijthof

He is the king of the Waltz, she the crown princess

Kimberly Smith from Maastricht managed 150 ballroom dance couples who transformed the Vrijthof area during the concerts of André Rieu into a large magical Viennese dance floor.

Maastricht by Vikkie Bartholomeus: Whether or not he himself can waltz? Of course André Rieu can waltz. She has already danced with him during a CD presentation." And that went fine, perfect. The king of the waltz waltzes very well!" Kimberly-Kim Smith says laughingly, although she is actually too tired. In the past weeks she has been responsible for 150 ballroom dancing couples who will be waltzing over the Vrijthof during André Rieu's summer evening concerts. She had goose bumps when she first saw 'her' dancers float on the Vrijthof. "It was magical. Magical is also the word André uses a lot to explain what he wants."

He first made contact in February. They knew a little of each other: Rieu's sons once took dancing lessons in Kim's dance studio at her house; her parents are still very active worldwide as trainers and judges in the dance world. "André asked me: "Kim would you be able to manage eighty couples? I want the entire square to be dancing. He already had a picture of that in his head. Dark, glittering gowns, magical. He has an enormous vision. That is why he has come so far." Those eighty couples actually became one hundred and fifty, presented as "the Maastricht Dance Company." They came from all over: the Achterhoek (Eastern Gelderland province), Waalwijk (City in Noord Brabant), Germany and Belgium. "We have them from all levels and all ages above eighteen." They consist of senior champions, professional dancers and world champion wheelchair dancers. We held ten couples in reserve in case of injury or illness.

The preparations were intense. Kim travelled all over to have them learn their choreography. "André plays with a lot of feeling, but does not keep to a strict tempo. He adds stops and moments which makes it quite difficult for the dancers. That is why they were all given the music so they could practice."


He already had the image in his head. Dark, glittery gowns, magical.

Only two weeks prior were there two combined rehearsals in Genk under the all noticing eyes of the maestro. "André really sees everything, and directs with humor. And finally, as sort of a director for the dancers, he is correct." For the ladies, all the glittering gowns were custom made: for gentlemen who did not have a tuxedo, one was measured and one was provided. The compilation of the choreography was also not an easy task. "There could not be too much movement since the couples would be too close together in the pathways and in front of the stage. But all together they should move very easily. During completions, dancers are used to dance across the entire floor, now they had to move in place. That took some getting used to."

Entry and exit were tightly regulated. The dancers left the Vrijthof with 'scattered chassé', skipping in high tempo. "I stood by the exit gates moving everyone along in order to prevent congestion. Every show has to be tops. You cannot afford any mistakes." During the encores, dance partners were taken from the audiences. "Very emotional things happened. One of the dancers asked a 77 year old lady who used to be a prima ballerina, but had difficulty moving. He carried her. That lady was so happy she was able to dance again for just a little while."

Kim Smit has been dancing at top levels since her youth, and has participated in world championships with her Australian partner. During the TV program 'Dancing with the Stars' she taught Bart Chabot to dance. She also participated in the Belgian variation of 'Dancing with the Stars'. In addition she was one of the choreographers for the musical "Dirty Dancing' which played in places like London, Berlin and Chicago. Kim Smit was honored that André asked her. "It is so nice that ballroom dancing has now been focused on for a bit. It is something classical, timeless, really a heritage. It is fantastic that André promotes this." What is so beautiful about waltzing? "You float, and that is a wonderful feeling."

Thanks to Al and Ineke for the article and John's translation
Photos by Berys McEvoy and Patrick Verweire

Aug 24, 2016

Teun Ramaekers - Always On An Adventure With André

Always On An Adventure With André

Teun Ramaekers plays the flute in André Rieu's Johann Strauss Orchestra. In 1987 the famous violinist called him and asked him to go on an adventure with him. "Luckily we now receive more respect and appreciation."

Maastricht: The Limburger by Ruud Maas and Peter van de Berg - It is roughly an hour before Teun Ramaekers will leave the Theater on the Vrijthof in his tuxedo and go to the stage on the other side of the square. Dressed in a plaid shirt the 62 year old flutist sits quietly in the hall of the theater. There is no nervousness especially since playing in his own home town suits him the best. Since the end of the eighties he has been travelling with Rieu and has experienced all the successes from very close up. 

Actually Teun has known his 'boss' his entire life. His elementary school was located next to the parental house of the violinist, and so he saw the four years older future world star regularly playing in the street. Years later they learned to know each other much better when they both attended the Liège conservatory and traveled there together. After their educational training, they both went their own way, until Teun's telephone rang in 1987. Rieu called with the question if he would like to join the Johann Strauss Orchestra as flutist since the orchestra was being expanded. "Most advised me against it since the future would be very uncertain, but I was looking forward to go on an adventure," Teun said. "The enthusiasm exploded. The first years were unbelievably fun, we made it seem like a party." Ramaekers quickly realized that Rieu had the 'golden' touch. "All theater performances in the Netherlands and Belgium were sold out, which was not normal. We were just starting out, barely had two lamps for a decor, but yet every place was full. You could see the successes grow. And then, "THE HIT," the Second Waltz, which was the cherry on top of the cake.

Limburger Criticism
Meanwhile Rieu and his large-scale concerts on all the continents has become the most successful artist worldwide. "That André did all this by himself, I find it extremely special." Maybe that could be the reason why André never held back, Ramaekers thinks. "Look at the current cultural climate, lots of curtailments. And Rieu does not want to have anything to do with subsidies, for himself as well as us he has created a totally independent position." But still, there is criticism the flutist acknowledges. Aren't they not playing light classical music seriously enough? Is it so exceptional what Rieu does? "But those you hear less and less. The first years, yes, especially and typically primarily in Limburg. The last few year we now receive more respect and appreciation. And that makes me happy." In the meantime full squares and stadiums alternate. Are you getting used to that?

Concerts like here on the Vrijthof are still very unique. The atmosphere is so very special. No other orchestra can achieve that.

"The first time in the 'Ahoy' (large stadium in Rotterdam, the Netherlands) was amazing, what a crowd. We now frequently perform in such stadiums, so we are getting used to that. And yet, recently we played on the Ceausescu square in Bucharest, Romania, which holds even more people than here on the Vrijthof. Which remains so very special. The atmosphere is so very special. I dare say no other orchestra can manage to do that." Since these two have known each other for such a long time, that does not necessarily mean that they serve as each other's sounding boards. "In the beginning, yes, occasionally, but now André of course has his own family to discuss substantive issues with. When we speak quietly it is primarily about private matters. Music is then not discussed."

Pneumonia
Ramaekers who sits diagonally behind Rieu on stage finds him to be a caring individual. "We do not desert each other. Just take an extra aspirin when you don't feel 100%. We keep going unless it is really impossible. Once André sent me home when I had pneumonia. You can really feel bad, but once you are on stage it is like ecstasy."

The musician is now 62 years old, but has no plans to retire his instrument. "The periods of lengthy concert tours is now behind us. Previously we would be gone from home for four or five weeks, now no longer than two. After that we return to Maastricht and rehearse in the studio. This is an exceptional balance. I cannot predict the future, but as long as André keeps going, I will be there with him."


Thanks to Ineke for the article and John's translation

Aug 15, 2016

Frank Steijns - The Best of Two Worlds

The Best of Two Worlds

To be locked up alone in a church tower or to be fully engulfed in the spotlights during a Rieu concert.
  
July 13, 2016. Limburg Newspaper, by Ronald Colé: Maastricht citizen Frank Steijns (45) is the city carillon player and is also violinist with the Johann Strauss Orchestra. "Everything in my life revolves around music."
You don't expect it: The image you have of a carillon player is that of a lonely old man who painfully climbs the stairs of a church tower to practice an ancient and dying profession, just for a tip.

That is not true in the case of Frank Steijns from Maastricht. Born in Bilzen, he has not only been the Maastricht city carillon player since 1997, the 13th in the row since 1672, but is also carillon player for the towns of Weert and Heerlen. And a very good one too! He does not play standard tunes like "Tulips from Amsterdam" or "the Big Ben", no, he also plays current day hits.. When David Bowie passed away "Heroes" rang out over the Vrijthof, and with the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones, "Lady Jane" echoed over the Market. Last week with a tenor and a mezzo soprano, he strewed about the city of Weert the music of Westside Story. And recently during the Booch Festival in Heerlen, heavy metal music could be heard from the church tower.

Sailor Suit

Steijns was 5 years old when he was first allowed to enter the tower of the St. Servaas cathedral with his father Mathieu, to use the new carillon. "In a nice white sailor's suit. Afterwards, when I left the tower it had turned pitch-black, but I knew that my future profession would be: a carillon player". Not really too trendy for a little boy, overweight with glasses and a violin. But that did not bother him. "You just have to do your own thing in life". The English say it so nicely: "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life". I wholeheartedly agree with that.
After secondary school, Steijns choose the Conservatory in Leuven (Belgium), where he studied both violin, music theory and orchestra management, followed by the Royal carillon school in Mechelen. He had hardy received his certificates, when André Rieu called him. Early in the morning at 7.30 AM, the day after my graduation. He was looking for a violinist who could join him the same evening in Nijmegen, where the Four Days Walk festivities were taking place, and asked me if I would like to join him. I said "Yes" and I never left him.

Photographer

So hot! In the meantime Steijns has developed as a Jack-of-all-trades within the Johann Strauss Orchestra. He is not only a first violinist, but also a replacement pianist during performances, and he accompanies the singers on the piano during rehearsals, assists with writing arrangements, and composes waltzes and other new music pieces together with the orchestra's conductor.

Besides that I update the website and I am the in house photographer for the orchestra. André rather likes that, because I know exactly when I can or cannot take pictures.

The question arises as where he finds the time to do all these things. Besides traveling the world 150 days per year with the Maastricht standalone violinist he also performs some 175 carillon concerts per year. Everything I do has to do with music, therefore it is no effort. Besides I can do it at my own leisure. If my body requires it, I take some rest. Actually, when we are on tour, I just have to perform between 8 and 11 PM. So what stops me during the day from visiting a museum, or taking a nap? Or read a book with an headset on?

But it is true that I lead an intense life. Outside the André Rieu concerts I drive about 45.000 kilometers (about 28,000miles) every 6 months in my own car. Not counting the train and plane travels. This is purely for my carillon job. Once I flew to New York, and back during one weekend, where at the prestigious Yale University one of my compositions for carillon and soprano premiered.

Recently I went to a reunion of the conservatory of Leuven.
Of the fifty students, there appeared to only be three who actually still sit on the stage.

Pilot

Yet he would not trade the life he lives for for all the gold in the world. I recently attended a reunion of my conservatory education class in Leuven. It occurred to me that only 3 music students out of 50 were actually still on stage, which included me. Amongst the others were many directors of music schools, a producer of Andrew Lloyd Webber and even a pilot!

Don't even ask him to choose between his job as carillon player or violinist.. That is the same as having to chose between your father or mother. "An impossible choice."
As a carillon player you are anonymously playing in a church tower to people who do not really listen to you, while you are still fully responsible for every note you play, the planning and the repertoire. With Rieu I am just a small cog in the machine and when in a sense, I just show my face, tens of thousands of people start cheering. These two musical worlds do fit and complement each other seamlessly.

Frank Steijns would not want to trade the life he leads as carillonneur and Rieu violinist for anything in the world.

Emotions

Quietly he hopes that as a carillonneur he achieves the same success Rieu has achieved as an orchestra leader. On a smaller scale of course. "I have performed with André Rieu in a small theater with an audience of 200, and admire the vision he has: what works for 200 must also work for 2000. And if it works for 2000, than it must also work for 20.000. So if I am successful in touching 2 people with my carillon, then that must also to work with 20". 

Hence the tirelessness in which he continues to promote his instrument. "In the 18th and 19th century the carillon was the instrument of the ordinary people who could not afford a live Mozart or Offenbach concert. And it currently is still the same. And so recently I met a lady who emigrated in 1946 to Australia and had recently returned to the city of her birth, Maastricht, to attend a Rieu concert. The buildings were the same but she did not recognize the city any more. Until she walked over the St. Servaas Bridge and heard the carillon of City hall. Then she realized she was home. Doesn't that say enough?

Thanks to John for the Translation

Aug 13, 2016

Rieu Not Yet Finished With Drone

Rieu Not Yet Finished With Drone

Limburger by: Laurens Schellen

Where has it been? The in the beginning of July confiscated high-tech drone of André Rieu. Behind lock and key in a secured police depot somewhere in the Netherlands. As confirmed by the Aviation Oversight Commission.

The very much talked about drone of André Rieu which the police confiscated last month in Maastricht after one of his seven sold out performances on the Vrijthof, is still behind lock and key. In one of a specially equipped and well-guarded 'property seizure' installations of the national police according to spokesperson Dennis Janus of the Aviation Oversight Commission in Amsterdam. Janus will not reveal the exact location for security reasons.

Risky More than a month after the controversy surrounding the Rieu-drone it is still unclear whether the orchestra leader's unmanned aircraft will be returned to him. The costly little helicopter, weighing several kilos and equipped with high-tech equipment, circled in early July two evenings illegally over the Vrijthof recording the concerts for a feature film about the concert series. According to the police, flying a drone over a busy city center is by definition risky, and is therefore forbidden if flown without permission. Moreover, Maastricht is located in the approach path of arriving aircraft landing in the municipality of Beek. 

According to John Drummer, a professional drone pilot, drones cannot be flown there under any circumstances. In answer to questions by this newspaper, Janus indicated that the investigation in this matter is still ongoing. "That should be completed within a few weeks and then the case will be transferred to the public prosecutor. Ultimately it will be the national public prosecutor for aviation matters who will decide on the punishment and penalties," Janus explained. The severity of the case is not yet known. "I cannot and will not further elaborate about this case. Normally you will not go to jail for flying a drone illegally. Unless you place air traffic or people in danger." Case laws show that in most cases fines are imposed. Also permanent confiscation of a 'bad' drone is a possibility. 

Spectacular. 
Production manager and son, Pierre Rieu, was  not available for comment 
yesterday, but was able to save the spectacular recordings by the flying robot in time. By the end of July, all the Vrijthof recording done by almost thirty cameras, were aired via satellite connection as a worldwide premier to almost two thousand cinemas. Just in England alone, where the movie played in almost 550 cinemas, receipts for the just one weekend showing were nearly one and one half million pounds. A huge contrast in comparison with the minuscule price tag of that mini-aircraft, which experts estimate to be between ten and twenty thousand. 


Translation by John 

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Pierre and André September 30, 2016 Maastricht

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Photo Taken at Mexico City Concert ~ September 2013

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"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

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