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Jun 21, 2019

Economic Impact of The Rieu Concerts Have Increased Enormously


Economic Impact of The Rieu Concerts Have Increased Enormously

Hotel keeper: Toine Scheerens: The impact of the Vrijthof Concerts by André Rieu is now particularly large for the economy in Maastricht and the entire region. Take for instance the hotels, they really benefit from them, according to Toine Scheerens, manager of the NH-Hotel and President of the cooperating hotels in Maastricht. (Sahot) 

By Jo Cortenraed: Chief editor Chapeau Magazine and Manon Broers 

That afternoon André and his wife Marjorie are sitting comfortably on the couch, accompanied by two poodles who are very peacefully snoozing and not paying any attention to either the guest or the conversation. The homely tranquility is in great contrast which most fans worldwide have of him: always energetic on and around the stage, and always busy entertaining his public of millions with his music. "It all started with the "Hieringe Biete" (Herring bites) concerts", he said soberly. "That was in the eighties. Back then I already dreamed of someday playing square in the middle of the Vrijthof. That would really be something we told each other. And yes, back then we had no idea that it would ever happen and that it became so big." 

Convincing the hotel and catering industry (Horeca) 

The first edition of everything is always the most difficult, because everything is new. André and Marjorie discovered that also in their "own" Maastricht. "Primarily the horeca industry on the Vrijthof was not that much in favor. The entrepreneurs were afraid that they would miss out on income, especially since we demanded that no drinks would be served during the concerts. That would interfere too much with the music. It took a lot of persuading. In addition we made a very interesting agreement: that they can include the entrance fee in their packages and we would not collect anything from that. Our revenue comes only from the tickets we sell for the square only, and not the tickets for the terraces. After the first weekend, now fifteen years ago, our house was filled with flowers, all sent by the same horeca entrepreneurs. Apparently the events turned out to be in their favor, and since then we have complete cooperation. Even from the city council. That started from the very first year, for which then Mayor Gerd Leers was responsible. In the past the cooperation did not always go smooth. Once back in 1994, we and the orchestra were just having a drink on the square "de Thermen" to celebrate our first CD "Strauss and Company." We started playing spontaneously and the people found it to be awesome. But very quickly we had to stop, because of a couple of municipal inspectors. We had no authorization. We were creating a nuisance to the residents, while it was still in the middle of the afternoon. I understand that you have to take everything into account as much as possible, but I think that when you consciously are going to live in the inner city, you need to be flexible too. To enjoy full peace and quiet you need to live outside the city."


"My public is always so emotional
because I am that too" 

Taking Risks 

The current Vrijthof concerts are thus based on the "Hieringe Biete" concerts which with André and his former Salon Orchestra started some thirty odd years ago, in conjunction with Carnival (Mardi Gras). "I already knew back then that this would become our livelihood, but I absolutely had no idea how big it would become. Of course, the success is now overwhelming, and fans from over eighty countries come to Maastricht. But we took a lot of risks, in fact for all those years. What did you think, with one hundred twenty people in permanent employment, and about as many additional part timers. Those are mega investments. But we succeeded, our company is now in calmer waters, and everything is well under control, But that was not always so," he says laughingly and putting it into perspective. "Yes, André is always very giving without realizing the consequences" says wife Marjorie soberly, with whom he has always formed a team behind the scenes, even up until today. He is just what he is. That is his strength. He wants to succeed every evening. He is not acting, that is how he is." André adds to that: "I would not be able to do it otherwise. The people feel that too, whether it is real or not. That is why my public is always so emotional, because I am that too." 

Highlights 

Looking back André spontaneously recalls some of the highlights of the past fifteen years on the Vrijthof. "The arrival of actor Anthony Hopkins, whose composition we played, the performance of Benny Neyman, Rouwwn Hèze, Vikey Leandros, the Harlem Gospel Choir, Jermaine Jackson, the choir from South Africa, the Maastrichter Star, the four hundred brass players which we acquired during the World Music Competition, Triny Lopez. Lou Vega, and yeas I can still go on. And why the marching band from Eijsden prior to the concerts? The musicians of the "Sainte Cécila" provide an excellent atmosphere on the terraces every evening prior to our concerts. Just prior for us going onstage, they serenade us as we stand on the steps of the theater, which every time is a beautiful moment. You can also think about other warm-up programs, but I am a loyal person. And when it works why change it. It works and provides the proper sphere." The numbers speak for themselves. This year the 100th concert on the Vrijthof and a 1,000.000th visitor. All together 140,000 people who especially come to the Vrijthof, in total twelve evenings. "Yes, who would have thought that fifteen years ago. In addition there are the millions of viewers who watch the concert in the cinemas. That does pretty well too. It not only benefits us, but also the entire city and the region. Yearly we sell 700,000 tickets worldwide for our concerts. And everywhere we go, I speak about my beautiful birth city Maastricht. I like doing that. And it is wonderful to play here. Some hotel owners told me once that I solely am responsible for most of the marketing for Maastricht. And I don't charge them a dime for that." 

Preparation 


The preparations of André on the Vrijthof are no different than when for example he performs in Brazil or Australia. "I concentrate on the evening. It just so happens that my home is my hotel room, in a matter of speaking. For instance, I will not do any chores. I work out and rest. I make sure that I am on the Vrijthof around 5PM, and to see that everything is OK. We eat there and afterwards I rest, just like when I am on tour. Nothing is done automatically, everything has to be done from the very beginning. And afterwards comes the relaxation. Always a wonderful feeling. I hope I'll be able to that for many more years to come. For me and as well for all the people who come here to enjoy themselves.

The first concert series of André Rieu on the Vrijthof were not a big deal for the hotel keepers in the city. "We had troubles getting the rooms filled", said Toine Scheerens. There were only 3 concerts in the beginning and not 12 like now. So, just only one weekend and besides I think that mostly fans from this area attended. It was something new. The international public came later. The start of a separate industry by André Rieu Travel Agency (started by son Pierre Rieu) was an important turning point for Scheerens. "That turned out very well. Especially the package arrangements which they offer to their guests, work well. For us it is a very good outfit to work with. All appointments are properly met." 

For a long time the art fair TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair) was for the hotel keepers of Maastricht and vicinity the absolute highlight of the year. That has changed. "TEFAF is still very important to us, that is certainly true. But with 140.000 visitors from many different countries, Rieu's concerts as an event have become twice as big as TEFAF. During those weekends the hotels are totally occupied as far away as Eindhoven, Hasselt, Liège and Aachen. The entire region benefits from it. The room rates we feel are excellent. There are hotels which adjust their interior as much as possible to Rieu with decor elements to get their guests into the right atmosphere." The concerts are also good for employment. "We hire extra people from all over the country, all the way up to Amsterdam. Otherwise we cannot manage the event. All vacations/holidays are withdrawn during that time. Because guests arrive early and like to have lunch and dinner. Just for an N-H Hotel alone we already have 8 buses running, especially for the Rieu-fans." 

Not only do the hotels benefit from this mega-event. "What do you think about the laundry services, the bus companies, the taxi cabs, the shops in the inner city and of course the restaurants and cafés with their outside terraces. The entire city earns a lot of money and may be thankful to André Rieu." Scheerens himself is mostly entertained by the international guests. "They come from everywhere. Brazil, USA, South-Africa, you just name it. That says something about André Rieu's fame, his status as a world star. The people are very diverse. From very common to very sophisticated, a mix of everything. And they all have a lot of fun. 

GILLIAN 

Fan for life from Kent, UK. No less than 80 springs young, but that does not stop Gillian Bisseru from travelling all alone from England to the Vrijthof every year. Not one Rieu concert day is skipped by her, and this year she attends all 12 concerts. "It is so wonderful to see how Rieu and his orchestra know how to touch anyone to release emotions." In order to make the most of these days, Gillian treats herself to the VIP package deal from the Kruisheren Hotel. "The location of this hotel is ideal and the architecture is very special". The VIP arrangement includes a lunch, a guided tour through Rieu's castle, studio or backstage, depending on the day. "It is a unique way to get a look into Rieu's life. Especially when his son Pierre Rieu is the tour guide!" 

ANDREAS AND DIANA 

Fans for life from Munich, Germany. "Every time we look forward to the Rieu concerts on the Vrijthof. In our eyes he knows like no other how to select music and so move his audience. Next to the beautiful dresses, the decor is also very special, surrounded by all those terraces and churches…. It's a piece of Heaven on Earth." Andreas and Diana von Dall' Armi have been coming for years especially from Munich to attend the Rieu Vrijthof concerts. Maastricht has become a place for the family where they both can enjoy their two passions during the summer, namely André Rieu and the equestrian sport. During the same time, a well-known equestrian event, the CHIO, takes place in Aachen. After the overwhelming Rieu concerts, it is always a big party and the German couple likes to stay an extra night to relax. "We prefer to enjoy a drink on the Onze Lieve Vrouwen Plein (Our Dear Lady Square) after the concert has finished, because that is the most romantic place to enjoy life". 

RUUD AND INEKE

Fans for life from Den Haag, the Netherlands. Ruud and Ineke Elshout-Cornelissen are real fans from the first hour. In the 90's they already attended concerts by André Rieu and the Johann Strauss Orchestra. "At present we travel each year to Maastricht and each year we stay longer! We want to be there the entire time, which last year resulted in all 13 concerts!" They stay at the DuCasque Hotel where they recover from Rieu's concerts, the fan dinners and picnics, which they are organizing themselves for the fans. "It has almost become a fulltime job that organizing. Where Rieu goes, we go too. In the meantime this has become our favorite holiday formula: combining a concert and meeting fans, with sightseeing a city.



Thank You to John and Ineke for Translating this long article! (and to "me' for posting it!) :D

4 comments:

Sue Berry said...

Great Article - Best Team Work Ever!! :D

Francine Chavanon said...

Bravo à André et sa formidable équipe, orchestre et autres collaborateurs. Cette année encore sera un grand moment sur le Vrijthof pu je serai aussi. Merci pour la belle musique. Une fan venue de France. Francine.

Mercè Fité i Labaila said...

Mercè Fité.
Maravilloso Andre, he ido a Maastricht en 2016 y 2018, impresionante. Y también los conciertos en el cine. Fantastico. Dios te dé salud para seguir así mucho tiempo. Un abrazo grande. Mercè.

Erik said...

Dear Andre Rieu fan,
Due to unforseen circumstances (my mother is too ill to go :-( I am able to offer two tickets for the final Andre Rieu concert in Maastricht this year.
(tomorrow 21th of july at 900 pm)
The tickets are on the 19th row (!)in section A1.
They are availiable for purchase price of 2x 110 euro
You can contact me at 0031 63346610

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Pierre and André September 30, 2016 Maastricht

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Photo Taken at Mexico City Concert ~ September 2013

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"Hello to all my fans on The Harmony Parlor!"

Soundcheck in Maastricht 2013 (RTL Photo)

Maastricht 2012 ~ "André on The Theater Steps" by Bee

Maastricht 2012 ~ "André and Pierre on The Theater Steps" by Bee

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