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.