Getting Acquainted With Clarinetist
Manoe Konings was reading music before she knew her A B C’s. As a little girl she used to tell her mother about the three things in life she wanted the most: making music, to become famous and to reach the age of 96. Two of the three have become reality already.
"My grandfather was a trumpet player. He also wrote lines for comedians and songs for carnival. From him I inherited the love for music. As a little girl I played the clarinet with the marching band "Heer Voouit." I was the only girl and can still vividly remember the discussions we had whether I should wear slacks or a skirt. Luckily it became slacks. We played a wide varied musical repertoire: opera overtures, marches, Ravel’s "Bolero". Afterwards I attended the conservatory in Maastricht, and played in several regular orchestras. I did not feel comfortable there. Since 1989 I have been with André and the Johann Strauss Orchestra. An open lovely and relaxed atmosphere prevails there. In the beginning we were with just twelve people. Now we have about sixty orchestra members.
André builds bridges. He noticed that a large portion of the general public was not receiving any culture, that a large void existed. He really makes contact with his audience, that is his strength, and so he gives the people an unforgettable gift. At that time Strauss too stood on stage in front of the public, people were allowed to laugh and react, and did not really need to know how or what, or know the titles of the music pieces by heart. That is not essential; either it clicks or it doesn’t. During a rehearsal I once made a joke about a bagpipe. André asked me directly if I would like to learn to play it. A bagpipe is just like a clarinet, it is a reed instrument, but only has eight notes, and demands a lot of strength. Blowing and pressing simultaneously is the most difficult. The startup of a bagpipe is difficult, sometimes it collapses; is it going to play or not?
Every evening I play "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipe. I try playing that with the happiness and open heart of a child. The entire venue cries, time and time again.
In 2001 I received the devastating news that I had breast cancer. I was left with the choice of no longer being able to tour the world with André and the orchestra. One thing I knew for sure: if I stop making music I’ll die. It might sound strange, but cancer was the best thing that happened to me, I enjoy life so much more. Music wise I play differently too. I listen to my inner feelings, myself. I am content the way I am, and I treat people the same way I would like to be treated. Music is my oxygen, and saved my life".
Manoe Konings was born in Maastricht in 1961. She plays clarinet, saxophone, bagpipes, guitar, sings and dances and is a true entertainer on stage. She also likes to race through town in a leather jacket on her motorcycle.
Thanks to John for the Translation of this Magazine Article