Early André Fans
John and Bobbie - California USA
Our first live André Rieu concert was in 2002 accompanied by John’s cousins who then lived in Columbus Ohio. What a wonderful experience. That was the concert where Suzan made her first solo appearance. (See Sonja’s story) We had chatted with some of the JSO members and other crewmembers after the concert but did not meet André until a few years later. Although we were at the same concert, we did not know Sonja at that time, but made contact with her shortly afterwards when we had returned back to Nebraska where we were living at that time due to John’s job. Our next concert was two years later, 2004, in Indianapolis with friends from a little place just outside Cincinnati, and that too was another great experience. There we finally met Sonja, Sigrun from Germany, and Kirsten, André’s spokesperson. After the concert, we finally did meet André for a real short time, long enough for an autograph, and chatted with some of the JSO members, who all were very friendly and cordial. In between live concerts we have enjoyed many André Rieu PBS specials on TV.
2005 was a busy concert year for us, when we attended three concerts. Our first concert that year was in Cincinnati, Ohio, which was marvelous. André put on a great performance and managed to have great audience participation. The day after the Cincinnati concert, we attended what we would consider the "Very first André fans picnic", organized by Sonja, in a park just outside her home. It was great meeting fans from previous concerts and new fans and enjoying their experiences. July brought us to the Netherlands for our second concert and the very first André concert on the Vrijthof. With John’s sister we attended the very first fan’s dinner and the fan’s picnic in the Maastricht City Park. We enjoyed a wonderful weekend in Maastricht. André out did himself. His Maastricht concerts were and still are unbelievable; a very memorable experience that will not be soon forgotten. Our third concert was closer to home in Fresno, when André toured the Western United States, and was attended with family and friends.
Our next André meeting was totally unexpected and unplanned. André was again touring the Western US, and performing this time in San José California. Since we had established a friendship with Sigrun from Germany, she was to spend some time with us, but before she would be coming to us, she was staying with friends in the San José area and would also be attending André’s concert. She was to ride back with us to our home after the concert. While discussing a place to meet, since we had not purchased tickets for André’s concert, we decided to attend, so a frantic search for tickets was started. Only to be told that the entire venue was sold out. Every seat had been bought by PBS supporters. Somehow we managed a couple of tickets through the internet and enjoyed, although a little from afar, (we were sitting almost in the rafters) a wonderful concert. We were to meet Sigrun at the North entrance of the arena after the concert, and on our way out happened to see Dan "the Banner Man" and his wife Alice in the center of the Arena. Having met them previously in Maastricht we thought it would be nice to say "hallo" so down we went to meet with them. While chatting, someone, we assume from the TV station came by and ushered us all into a room for the "Meet and Greet". (A program established by PBS whereby fans could meet and chat with André for a nominal pledge/fee of course).
While chatting with Kirsten, she excused herself and announced that André was on his way in. Imagine our surprise when André and several photographers walked in and he came straight towards us saying: "I want a picture with these folks". You could have blown us over with a feather. Next thing we knew there were cameras in our faces, and we wondered: "What had just happened?" Sorry to say the pictures were never posted on André’s site, but he still does whenever he and the JSO are on tour. It was an experience we still to this day talk about. We did feel a little out of place at that "Meet and Greet" and therefore made an early and hastily departure to catch up with Sigrun who was wondering what had happened to us and where in the world did we run off to.
2007 was another great year for André concerts. There were the Vrijthof concerts, the "Fairytale" concert in the Efteling in the Netherlands as well as André’s premier "Schönbrunn" Castle concert in Toronto. Also a concert never to be forgotten and a place where we had lots of fun with the JSO members as well as other fans
In the past almost eighteen years we attended many concerts, including all the Vrijthof concerts so far every year. In 2007 John was asked to work with Sue on the Harmony Parlor, which he gladly accepted and has been busy with that ever since. In addition he also helps Ruud and Ineke with their translations on the André Rieu Movies site on a regular basis, and has assisted Sonja with her "Translations site" prior to 2007. It is through André’s music, that we have met some very nice people who have the same love for his music as we do, and many friendships have flourished and are ongoing. During our travels chasing André around the world, e.g. Australia, Canada and a couple of European countries, we have accumulated a few "High Fives" from him and amassed a nice collection of his CD’s and DVD’s which we play and/or watch frequently. John and Bobbie
Alice Leung Hails from Hong Kong
Now lives in Vancouver, Canada
From Alice: The year was 1985 when Andre’s music first invaded our house in Hong Kong. My brother went to a "Hi-Fi" store and the sales guy told him about this nice black vinyl which he just got in, very nice music, and from then on, it was my family’s most favorite album. It was the "Serenata" of Andre Rieu and the Maastricht Salon Orchestra, but we‘ve always called it "The Little Bird" album. We also bought the CD to be able to play it everywhere, including our car, we recorded it on a cassette tape as well. The first factory-installed in-dash CD player was introduced in 1985, we did not own a car with that luxury back then, but we had a house in the suburbs and my brother would always turn the volume nice and loud, so the little bird’s singing kind of blended with the trees and flowers in our garden. My father took some "audioless 8mm home movies" before I was born, so when we played the movie I always played the Serenata to go with it. We had records of Paul Mauriat, Mantovani, Percy Faith etc. etc. but only the Little Bird’s music would give that special touch to our home movies. I have photographic memories seeing my grandmother in the black and white movie with Gold and Silver as background music, and my eldest brother playing happily with some battery-operated chicken when he was a kid with Bummelpetrus in the background. He’s now 60.
My grandmother passed away before we immigrated to Canada, we couldn’t bring her along, but we brought the Little Bird to Vancouver in 1990. With digital technology I brought our 8mm tapes to a professional shop to have the movies converted to DVDs. The guy told me he could add music to it, I thought "Oh! Nice!", but the music he had on the DVD was just not right, it totally spoiled the mood when watching our precious memories, so, I have the DVD "mute" , play our lovely Little Bird and we’re all good again. Although we had our first CD (black vinyl record) of Andre as early as 1985, the most precious one in our family, we didn't even know what he looked like until much later...what a waste of my life!! Interesting, wasn't it? Maastricht...which sounded like a complete stranger to us... was already in Hong Kong... long long ago!! Who would have known, including Andre himself, that he'd be soooo popular now, that people from around the world visit Maastricht because of HIM!
Several years went by. Suddenly, one evening in Sep 2006 my father was watching TV, flipping channels and there was some very nice music but it wasn't until I heard Toselli’s Serenade that I ran out from my bedroom and asked "Who’s playing?" My goodness!! The charming violinist, gorgeous cellist (Tanja), and the whole beautiful orchestra! A scene which didn’t seem to belong to the real world. Instantly I googled Andre Rieu, bought our first Vancouver concert tickets in 2006, ordered my Homecoming DVD (the first Maastricht concert 2005), googled this, googled that, totally obsessed, got my personalized license plate A RIEU in 2007, and ordered more items from Andre’s web boutique, including My Music, My Life, written by Marjorie. I got chills and almost a heart attack as I was reading the book, I looked at the back cover of our Serenata (The Little Bird) and it says "Andre Rieu & the Maastricht Salon Orchestra"….WHAT??? Didn’t know we had HIM all along!! While my brother might have known and remembered the name on the CD, I wasn’t familiar with conductors’ name, and Maastricht??? Not even English… never heard of it… Music this good we just didn’t even think the musicians were still alive.
As I was reading the book further, I literally cried when I read about the difficult times that Andre and Marjorie had to overcome in the early years, and how the Serenata became a huge success was especially touching, I felt the Rieu family was like our long-lost friend…or no, they’re more like a family….except they don’t know us. Imagine Marc and Pierre were just a few years old when we played his dad’s music! And now the boys are all grown up and so talented!