Elke and Nino Freitag
From Münster, Germany
I did hear André’s music from time to time, until I happened to see André and his orchestra on a TV show. I liked that so much that I wanted to experience him live. In December 2002 he gave a concert here in Münster. Unfortunately, I had missed that performance. But I was lucky – on December 9th, André gave an additional concert, and I bought our first concert tickets. From our seats on the side I could see how harmoniously and friendly the interplay between André and his musicians was. The dresses of the ladies in the orchestra were beautiful, all the musicians had good-humored faces and played with full enthusiasm. André stood elegantly and proudly with his violin in front of his orchestra and conducted them with his body, his eyes and his gestures – I enjoyed it so much that I immediately knew that this indeed was our first concert with André Rieu and the JSO - but certainly not our last.
From then on, André Rieu itinerary’s interested me very much, and when there were concerts in the area of about 200 km, I bought tickets
We attended our first Open Air concert in July 2004 in the football stadium in Kerkrade, the Netherlands, and we enjoyed the great atmosphere there. The first time we experienced 12,000+ people. I was quite excited during the entire concert. Especially when after the concert we met Andre, the JSO, Otto Waalkes and John Sheahan of the Dubliners backstage. That is where my first photo together with André was taken – luckily my shaky knees cannot be seen in this photo.
Our desire was to experience André once in the United States – where he had organized a concert tour there. So it came to pass that we saw and listened to him in Las Vegas, San Diego and Ontario/Los Angeles. One of our experiences was our meeting – also called a Meet & Greet - with André and the orchestra before and after the concert in Ontario, CA. After a brief conversation with André a group photo was taken and we were given an autographed farewell gift.
The concerts in the USA were – just like the ones in Germany - perfect, and the audiences were full of enthusiasm. We especially like to remember the Open Air Summer Specials in Heidelberg and Mainau. Exceeding the atmosphere of the island were the two concerts in Vienna in front of the Schönbrunn Palace - an unforgettable atmosphere and, of course, entirely appropriate for André's waltz music. André and his team had spared no effort in presenting the audience with evenings so romantic and as dreamy as possible. And then – there was the concert at the Semper Opera in Dresden. This superb, wonderful setting – was a dream.
I would like to tell you about a very nice experience: A friend, also a Rieu fan, was married in April 2004 and wanted to attend an André concert in Leipzig on their wedding night . She had tickets for the first row and told me that she would wear her wedding dress to the concert. During a concert - a long time ago – I had given André a short note, explaining the situation, and asked him if it were possible to convey to the couple in the front row best wishes. I never thought that my letter about my request would be read. But guess what – when the concert was over, my friend called me excitedly and said: "Imagine André giving us a wedding cake from the stage!!". Now I was surprised. A great gesture by André - and for me the confirmation that my little letter was read. They were happy, just like me, that a photo of this unique moment was taken.
The open air concerts which André performs every year in July in Maastricht - are a must for every fan, and we have been there every year - always on all three days of each weekend. There you meet friends from all over the world, have much to talk about and enjoy the fan dinner on a boat on the Maas, which every year is perfectly organized by Ineke and Ruud, which together is enjoyed with an evening concert on the magnificent Vrijthof, which André and his staff turn every year again into a romantic setting.
For 12 years now we have been fans of André and his music and in that time have attended more than 120 concerts, of which we have not wanted to miss a single one. We are still very sad that in September 2003, due to scheduling problem, we were not able to attend the concert in Cortona, Italy. It must have been great. We know Cortona well, and can imagine that this romantic little place in Tuscany was perfect for a summer concert under the starry night sky.
It is a pity that André no longer performs the traditional New Year's concerts in Cologne. For us it was always a wonderful start in the New Year. We hope to visit many more beautiful André concerts, along with friends.
In our subsequent visit to Cortona, I noticed a beautiful drawing of the Piazza della Republica in a small art dealer shop on the Piazza, where André had given his concerts. I bought this drawing, had it framed and then presented it to André on November 27, 2003 in our hometown of Münster. For him it should be a reminder of the concerts in Cortona. Look at this beautiful picture - and did it make André happy?
Elke's story was translated by John from German