The last in a three part article.
The successes which no one expected of the Rieu concerts on the Vrijthof, shall this July present a beautiful tenth birthday celebration. Such a first decade is also a good time to take a look beyond. The result? The idea for a Rieu dome is still alive.
The correspondance which Pierre Rieu mailed three weeks ago from Asia leaves nothing to be desired in clarity. Asked about the future plans of his father André in Maastricht, the business leader of the music business reveals the following: "It’s not very realistic that in the next ten years we will still be travelling this same pace throughout the world." To give you an idea of what Pierre means by that: "Wednesday André Rieu and his entourage were playing in Prague, today is Lódz’s turn, and tomorrow Gdansk. The tour is then scheduled to perform in Herning, Odensee, Copenhagen, Malmo, Geneva, Zurich, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Linz, Graz, Vienna, Budapest, Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn and Helsinki. Then ten concerts follow in July on the Vrijthof, after which Rieu and company in the autumn will make the crossing over to Brazil, where five performances are scheduled in São Paulo. The agenda for the rest of this year until the end of December still reflects to include shows in Istanbul, Belfast, Dublin, Liverpool, Leeds, London, Manchester, Glasgow, Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Cologne.
For the Maastricht world star, this is a top sport, which a few years ago demanded too much from his body and took him out of the running for a time. A warning which Rieu and his entourage are taking to heart. Continueing on at a punishing pace is like asking for new problems. Hence the serious look at reversing the formula. No more intensive trips to his fans all over the world, but bring the fans here. "André will be 65 years old this year, and in his own words will live to be 120, so there is not a single hair on his head that thinks about quitting. But still, we are busy with plans to perform more in the Maastricht region", says Pierre Rieu. "We are toying with the idea of building of a sort of a Maastricht-André Rieu Dome here in the region. The closest good concert halls are either in Cologne, Brussels, the Ahoy or the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam. A negative for the region. "Seven years ago it seemed like a permanent playground for André Rieu would be at our fingertips when musical tycoon Joop van den Ende stated that he wanted to build a theater, hotel, shops and bars at the inner harbor "'t Bassin" in Maastricht. In combination with a gambling center of U.S. magnitude, Maastricht would take a giant step on the substantial ladder of internationalization of the region. A lot was dreamed aloud about the integration of the Rieu concerts, including an exercise room for the violinist and conductor, to be visited by his fans during a humorous Rieu type tour through the city.
Due to all sorts of complications it never materialized, but that does not mean that the dream of a local concert stage for the stand-alone-violinist no longer exists. Former Mayor Gerd Leers of Maastricht confirms this; he was the person who gave the last push to have Rieu perform on the Vrijthof. "It would be very nice if the city would offer its greatest artist a permanent venue the moment he stops traveling around the world." According to Leers there are parties who are seriously looking for such a place. Leers' successor Onno Hoes would have no objection, would a chance arise. On the contrary. He is all praise about Rieu: "Every year he brings tens of thousands of people here, all who spend money in Maastricht. As a city, you then need to roll out the red carpet. What is so special is that Rieu is in accord with this city. He went to primary school here, to the baker’s, to the sports club. For many Maastricht citizens who know him, he is still the same André from before, while in the meantime he has become an absolute world star. "Hoes confesses that he is very surprised that the brand name Rieu has not further been developed by enterprising Maastricht. "Maybe we still need to wait for I don’t know, many more years, when Rieu will really become great. Which is probably after he has been dead for a long time." Much to the chagrin of Benoit Wesly, who helped André Rieu in making the Vrijthof concerts a success. "If Hoes says Rieu is likely to really be honored after his death, then he is well on his way to becoming a true Maastricht citizen. Always advancing. The city needs to act now and fast. Maastricht needs to entice Rieu, seduce him. To start with, put on a large Rieu festival. The city needs to take that risk. I keep finding it idiotic that name of Rieu was not linked to the candidacy of Maastricht as the Capital of Culture. If in that instance would we have then received that title, I do not know, but our chances would have been greater." Gerd Leers too is speaking about a festival. "Ten years of Rieu on the Vrijthof naturally is fantastic, but that does not mean that you have to keep thinking about renewals. A festival around the Rieu concerts for example. Let artists use the podium during the day when André does not perform. In that manner you can also serve other groups." The problem however, is the normal use of the Vrijthof as an event location.
Pierre Rieu: "We, along with the city have often thought about a festival. Time after time we have come to the conclusion that we should not do that. Now we create a unique atmosphere in the inner city which is completely generated by one person, André Rieu. We would lose that if we were to work with other artists during the week. In addition we would also cut our own throat, because every day that the Vrijthof is used counts towards the 60-day use rule for the square." Time to get Piet Nelissen involved, the man who on behalf of all urban residents has been warning us for years about the increasing flow of visitors which causes event crowds and nuisances of "Maastricht the amusement park." Nelissen praises Rieu in detail as a "benefactor for the city," calls him "a modern God" who has generously equipped the hotels, shops and especially the Vrijthof Caterings with Rieu Euros ". In summary: "Chapeau!" Nelissen also provides a critical note for the success of the Vrijthof concerts. The fact that Rieu lays claim to the Vrijthof for five weeks every year is for Nelissen actually impossible: "It's a travesty that the character of the Vrijthof with its iconic cultural heritage is affected by a tsunami of events for nearly half of the year, and in almost all cases they do nothing for its character. As if there are no other alternative locations in our beautiful city which are better suited for certain events." Nelissen advocates a major cleaning, which will return the square again to its rightful place, a place for meetings." What to think about André Rieu performing on Mount Saint Peter or in his own open-air theater in the ENCI (First Dutch Cement Company) quarry?
©Translation by John